Volleyball Reloads For Run At TAAC Title

Aug. 30, 2000

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As the Jacksonville University volleyball program enters its first season of the Robin Mignerey era, one thing can be assured--the Dolphins will compete for the 2000 Trans America Athletic Conference title.

With returning five starters - including 1999 TAAC Player of the Year Carrie Arago - from last season's conference runner-up team, Mignerey inherits a program loaded with talent, experience and youthful potential.

"We've got a wealth of talent coming back, including five starters, and we have a solid group of newcomers coming in," Mignerey says. "If we can establish everyone's role during the early part of the season, we should be prepared for the conference portion of our schedule."

Arago, a junior outside hitter, headlines the list of talented returnees. As a sophomore, she led the team in kills (411) and service aces (64), while ranking second in digs (289) and totaling 39 assists and 20 blocks (seven solo). If the Dolphins are to compete for the TAAC crown, Arago will have to put up similar numbers in 2000.

Arago, however, will not be the only player on the 2000 roster with player-of-the-year honors on her resume. Newcomer Brooke Jackson, who transferred to JU from Furman University during the spring semester, picked up Southern Conference Player-of-the-Year honors in 1998 and has collected 991 kills, 494 digs, 224 total blocks (43 solo blocks) and 61 service aces during her career. She will play middle hitter for the Dolphins in 2000.

"With Carrie and Brooke in the lineup, we should really be able to attack the ball," Mignerey says. "Any time you have two conference players of the year on one team, you're going to be in good shape. With Brooke in the middle and Carrie hitting from outside, we can now attack teams from anywhere on the court."

Also returning to the starting lineup are senior right-side hitter Jessica Windell and senior outside hitter Juanita Barb.

Windell finished fourth on the team in kills with 161 as a junior, while also recording 122 digs, 51 assists, 32 total blocks (five solo) and 26 service aces. Barb, who moves back to her natural position after playing the 1999 season as a middle blocker, led the team with 60 block assists and had 149 kills and 141 digs as a junior.

The player who will help set up JU's offensive attack will be junior setter Carrie Bosworth. As the full-time starter in 1999, Bosworth had the fourth-highest single-season assist total in school history with 1,008, and currently ranks fifth all-time at JU with 1,153 career assists. She also ranked third on the team with 180 kills while tallying 228 digs, 34 service aces and 37 total blocks as a sophomore.

Rounding out the lineup will be middle hitters Brooke Ahrens and Tiffany Twaddle. Ahrens, a sophomore, and Twaddle, a senior, split time in the middle last season and either could wind up in the starting lineup. Ahrens had 105 kills and 29 block assists while Twaddle totaled 99 kills, 70 digs, 37 total blocks last season. Junior Jaclyn Buran is expected to add depth in the middle after appearing in 16 games as a sophomore.

"With five starters returning, we obviously have a very experienced team," Mignerey says. "Carrie (Bosworth) had a solid year last season while Brooke and Tiffany each saw a lot of playing time in 1999. We feel that with our depth and experience, we can put any combination of players on the floor and maintain the high level of play we need to be successful."

Joining the list of JU veterans will be freshmen Radka Dimitrova and Kelly Ryals. Dimitrova is expected to contribute as an outside hitter and setter after helping her prep teams to the Bulgarian National Tournament three times, including the National Championship in 1996. Ryals, a two-time all-state and all-areas selection at Oak Hall High (Gainesville, Fla.) where she helped the team win the 1999 state title, should see time in as a middle and outside hitter.

As in previous seasons, the Dolphins face a tough non-conference slate with Florida International, Georgia Southern, Florida A&M, Florida State, Princeton, La Salle and Brown, along with the ever competitive TAAC schedule.

Following a TAAC regular season runner-up finish in 1999, league coaches picked JU to finish fourth in the league in 2000. But with a roster loaded with talent and experience, along with the energy of a new coaching staff, the Dolphins are sure to start the Mignerey era with a run at the conference title.