Jo Mayo, Correspondent
The Jacksonville State volleyball team spent a big weekend in Florida playing highly ranked teams from the ASUN East Division for the ASUN crossover event.
Jacksonville State’s return to the ASUN is thrilling, as this was JSU’s first Division I conference home. Before the tournament, JSU had a 17-4 overall seasonal record, a 7-1 ASUN record, and possession of first place in their division. JSU played against some of the top teams in Florida including Jacksonville, Liberty, and Florida Gulf Coast, which was a crucial matchup.
The first game to take place was against the Jacksonville Dolphins on October 22. The Jacksonville State Gamecocks won all three sets, making this their 13th sweep of the season. The first set was 25-15, making this an easy win. The next set was where JSU showed their dominance. Although winning again 25-15, the beginning of the set consisted of a 7-0 run assisted by two aces from Quigley and two kills from Halverson, bringing the lead to 14-5. The Dolphins managed to score a few points in between, but JSU ended on another run of 5-0 with Quigley contributing two kills, thus closing the second set with a victory. The third and last set gave a tight start of 7-6, but the Gamecocks pulled off another big win of 25-16.
Their great offense was said to give them the win as their hitting percentage was over .329, while the Jacksonville Dolphins was merely .075. JSU’s second set was the most impressive with a hitting of 0.448. Lena Kindermann was deemed ASUN player of the week, and she is living up to this title with nine kills and four blocks. Lexie Libs also contributed to the offense by putting up 32 assists. Their serving is said to be a major factor in their sweep. The Gamecocks had seven aces, and four of those were from our very own Kylee Quigley. In all, Jacksonville State had a successful first day against Jacksonville in the ASUN Conference making their record 18-4 with an ASUN record of 8-1.
The next game these athletes faced in Florida was against Liberty University. This great game ended in yet another sweep for JSU, making it their 14th sweep of the season. Kindermann gave the Gamecocks an early lead with her impressive kills, and this quick game ended 25-18. The next set was closer, making it even more intense. It was Libs who gave the Gamecocks an early lead this time. With a close score of 13-11, the Gamecocks eventually pulled ahead, resulting in a 25-21 win. The last game was the most intense of all. Liberty had the lead for most of the set and even had JSU down 20-18. Quigley took control of the game and assisted her team in a 5-0 run, leading their team to a 25-22 win.
Although they had a rough second set with 10 kill errors and a hitting of 0.125, JSU made up for it with 0.279 for the third set. Their offensive confidence is what secured the sweep. Quigley contributed an astounding nineteen kills to the team’s 51 kill total. Libs made 43 assists, which is more than Liberty’s top two assist leaders combined (Williams with 15 and Allread with 11). Although their offense was spectacular, the Gamecock’s defense is not one to be overlooked. Erin Carmichael made 16 digs, followed by Brooklyn Schiffli with 11. This second game of the ASUN Conference marked JSU’s nineteenth seasonal win and brought their ASUN record to 9-1, keeping the Gamecocks in first place in the division.
The final game in Florida was against JSU’s toughest competitor yet. Florida Gulf Coast gave the Gamecocks a run for their money. After having a successful first two games in this conference, JSU battled hard but fell short losing 3-0. They had a rough start to the first set, but slowly climbed their way back with a hard battle ending with a 25-22 loss. The beginning of the second set looked promising, but soon FCSU regained their momentum with a 7-1 run. With both teams switching leads, FCSU once again took the win with a heartstopping set of 29-27. JSU had another great start to the third set but struggled to maintain it; FCSU fought hard and overtook the Gamecocks closing the game 25-20. JSU battled hard and played great offense, but in the end, they could not pull it off.
FCSU was one of the best teams in the East division, and JSU held them to a close game. Halverson led the Gamecocks with 12 kills followed by Kindermann with 11. Although they had numerous kills, FCSU outhit them 0.393 to 0.258. Also, blocking was a major factor. FCSU managed to block several kills while JSU could not keep up. Not blocking as much caused the back row players to face hard hits, and this was tiring for them. Carmichael led the team in digs with 11, which is comparatively less than her 16 digs from the previous game against Liberty University. Libs had another good game as the setter with 42 assists in total.
JSU ends this portion of the ASUN Conference with a 19-5 overall and a 9-2 ASUN record. The Gamecocks battled hard in every game and let their determination and confidence carry them. They have great defense, but the offense is what was near unstoppable. Because of their success against the East Division teams, JSU has secured their place in the November ASUN Conference Tournament, and they still have maintained first place in the ASUN West Division. Their next game will take place at home in the Pete Matthews Coliseum against Bellarmine, whose seasonal record is currently 6-17, on October 29 at 6 p.m. With knowledge on what to improve, JSU is excited to continue the season.