BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Jacksonville University volleyball team got its 2013 season off to a rousing start on Friday at the FAU Invitational, downing Bethune-Cookman and Florida Atlantic in four sets each. Sammie Strausbaugh led the Dolphins in kills in each match, recording 14 against the Wildcats, and then a match-high 15 in the nightcap. JU is back in action looking for the tournament title against Southeastern Louisiana tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m.
Jacksonville 3, Bethune-Cookman 1
(26-24, 25-13, 23-25, 25-18)
A balanced offensive attack helped Jacksonville get its season started on the right foot on Friday morning, defeating Bethune-Cookman in four sets. Strausbaugh had a team-highs with 14 kills and 13 digs, while Kylie Jacob and Alyssa Robertson each added 12 kills apiece. Kendall Courtney handed out 39 assists in the win, and added 12 digs and four service aces.
JU took a 1-0 lead in the match, rallying out of a late deficit after leading comfortably much of the way. A kill from Taylor Nyquist gave the Dolphins a 20-16 lead, but the Wildcats refused to go away. Six straight points put BCC on top and just three points away from a one-set lead. Strausbaugh was able to end the Bethune-Cookman streak, and a Wildcat attack error on the next point tied the set for sixth time. Following a timeout from the MEAC squad, Jacksonville committed a service error but again turned to Strausbaugh to knot the set up at 23-23. An ace from Courtney put the Dolphins one point away from the victory, but Delicia Pierre turned in one of her match-high 15 kills to tie things up at 24-24. Finally, back-to-back kills from Strausbaugh and Gabriella Roman ended the set and gave JU the early edge.
The Dolphins had no such difficulties in the second set. Behind a team attack percentage of .483, JU smashed 17 kills on only 29 attacks. On the opposite side of the court, Bethune-Cookman had only seven kills in the set and also committed four attack errors. Jacksonville scored the first three points of the set off kills from Robertson and Jacob, as well as a Robertson ace, and never looked back, winning 25-13.
Though JU was within two points of closing out the match in a sweep, Bethune-Cookman hung tough and forced the match to a fourth set by closing the gap on a deficit that reached five points in the middle portions of the third set. Though the Wildcats nearly gave things away with eight service errors in the third, the Dolphins failed to take advantage, committing seven attack errors to offset any advantage. Pierre again came up huge for Bethune-Cookman, delivering six kills as BCC took the set by a score of 25-23.
Jacksonville was unfazed by the momentary setback, and turned a 7-6 deficit into an 11-7 lead in the fourth set to take control. Courtney scored the first point of the swing with a kill, then later added consecutive aces to increase the Dolphin edge. After the Wildcats had pulled within two points at 12-10, they sloppily gave JU five more points in a row on errors. Up 23-17, Robertson put a stamp on the win with back-to-back kills to clinch the match.
Jacksonville 3, Florida Atlantic 1
(20-25, 25-23, 25-16, 25-20)
After falling behind early, Jacksonville came back and won a hard-fought second set, then cruised home with fairly routine wins in the third and fourth sets to defeat FAU in the day’s second match.
Once again, Strausbaugh was in the middle of the JU offensive attack, recording 15 kills. Lending a helping hand were Emily Laskelle, who had a 14-kill night, and Robertson, who produced 13 kills and a .522 hitting percentage. Courtney once again played a significant role in the win, coming up with 49 assists and 12 digs. Nyquist led the Dolphins with 15 digs on the night.
Though the first set was tied at 12-12 halfway through, FAU reeled off three points in a row and never looked back, capitalizing on 10 attack errors from the Dolphins to take the early edge, 25-20.
JU responded in a big way in the second set. Strausbaugh and Laskelle combined for 12 kills in the second alone, helping the Dolphins open up a lead that stretched to as many as seven points in the late going. Rather than going quietly, the Owls came right back with six consecutive points to trim a 23-16 deficit to 23-22. Luckily, Laskelle’s hot hand ended the FAU momentum and an attack error from the Owls two points later gave Jacksonville the 25-23 win.
FAU enjoyed a brief 2-1 lead in the opening moments of the third set, but JU quickly established control of the set and coasted to a 25-16 win. Jacob needed just seven attacks in the set to earn six kills, putting the Dolphins in command of the match.
The Owls refused to go away in the fourth set, and the two sides matched each other point for point in the early going, resulting in 13 ties. Knotted at 15-15, JU ran off 10 of the final 15 points to earn a 25-20 victory.
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