Lets Hope This Is the Start of JSU’s Dominance Over the ACC
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Jacksonville State volleyball team capped a perfect opening weekend on Saturday, when the Gamecocks downed host Wake Forest and then Charlotte to go 3-0 and claim the Deacon Invitational title.
After a convincing 3-1 win over Furman on Friday, the Gamecocks (3-0) opened Saturday’s action with a 3-1 victory over the host Deacons. They then edged Charlotte, 3-2, in their final match of the weekend and improved to 3-0 for just the fourth time in school history.
“I was really happy with the whole weekend,” JSU head coach Rick Nold said. “We saw the team in a lot of tough situations and they did a great job of fighting to win every match. It’s a great start, and hopefully we’ll continue to improve every week as we get ready for conference.”
Defense was a key for the Gamecocks in a weekend that saw them hold their opponents to just a .157 attack percentage and less that 10 kills per game. Sophomore Lauren Harkins led their defensive effort with 71 digs, an average of 5.46 per game, and was named Tournament MVP for her efforts. The Louisville, Ky., native picked up 18 in the win over Wake Forest and added 24 in the nightcap with Charlotte. She led all players with 29 in Friday’s win.
“I thought our defense and serve receiving was the key to the weekend and Lauren is the leader of our back row,” Nold added. “She was a leader for us all weekend and is very deserving of the MVP award.”
Also garnering All-Tournament honors was junior Caitlin Vorbeck, whose 45 kills tied for the team lead in the tourney, but her .315 attack percentage was 50 points better than any other hitter on the JSU roster. The Raytown, Mo., native also recorded a team-high eight blocks in the tournament. Senior Brittney Whitten also picked up 45 kills, while also notching 36 digs. Junior Brooke Schumacher dished 129 of the team’s 161 assists, and freshman Alyx Schulte averaged 3.0 digs per game in her first weekend of collegiate volleyball.
In the first match of the day, the Gamecocks got 10 or more kills from four players and double-digit digs from five to earn the 3-1 (25-18, 25-19, 24-26, 25-16) win over the Deacons (0-3).
Whitten, Schulte and Schumacher each recorded double-doubles in the win, while Vorbeck led the Gamecocks with 16 kills on a .290 attack percentage. Whitten, a native of Boonville, Ind., had 11 kills and 10 digs, while Schumacher, of Lake In The Hills, Ill., had 16 digs to go along with her 53 assists. Schulte, a product of Cold Spring, Ky., recorded her first career double-double with 12 kills and 15 digs.
Junior Kara Slater added 14 kills, while senior Paige Beasley and Harkins pitched in 11 and 18 digs, respectively.
Wake Forest hit .133 as a team and was led by Andrea Beck’s eight kills and Abby Miller’s 14 digs.
In JSU’s last match of the weekend, Whitten knocked down 21 kills and picked up 14 kills for her third double-double of the weekend, while Schulte recorded 11 kills on a .320 attack percentage and 11 digs for her second double-double in as many matches. The Gamecocks overcame a 2-1 deficit to pull out the 3-2 (25-18, 23-25, 21-25, 25-20, 15-9) win over the 49ers (1-2).
Harkins’ 24 digs led a group of four Gamecocks in double figures, with Beasley pitching in 10. Vorbeck added 12 kills to the JSU offensive attack, one that was set up by Schumacher’s 40 assists.
The Gamecocks blocked 12 Charlotte attacks leaving the 49ers with a .165 attack percentage and just Jennifer Webb in double figures with 10 kills in the five-game match.
JSU will return to action on Tuesday, when the Gamecocks travel to Birmingham to take on UAB at 7 p.m.