Volleyball welcomes Jacksonville University

The Florida A&M Lady Rattlers will host the Jacksonville University Dolphins in a non-conference game Saturday at the Al Lawson Center.

The Lady Rattlers come into the contest 8-13, 5-1 in the Mid- Eastern Athletic Conference, and the Dolphins have a record of 13-14, 3-4 in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

The Dolphins defeated the Lady Rattlers in straight sets earlier this season. Jacksonville University had a hitting percentage of .410 while its defense held Florida A&M to a .074 hitting percentage.

The loss extended Florida A&M’s losing-skid to 11 games, but the Lady Rattlers have bounced back since then by winning eight of their last 10 contests.

“We are more confident as a team because we have wins behind us now compared to then when we didn’t,” defensive specialist Katelyn Kemp said. “So we’re more confident as a unit and we have just gotten better as team overall as the season progressed.”

Florida A&M head coach Tony Trifonov said in order for his team to win, the players have to hit the ball more efficiently.

“The players are improved and they are not in the negative hitting percentages,” Trifonov said. “Hopefully they play better than what they played in Jacksonville and increase our chances to win.”

The Dolphins were dominant in the first meeting. They had seven blocks in the game and the Lady Rattlers had none.

Florida A&M averages one block per game and the team may not be able to afford to have another game against the Dolphins without a block. Trifonov said the team wasn’t communicating earlier in the season, and he said there was a lack of leadership on his squad.

Outside hitter Bianca Rucker said the seniors have encouraged her teammates and the team is playing more cohesively as a result. She also said the team is much more sound defensively.

“Leadership has arisen on the team because the seniors have stepped up on the team, controlling the defense,” Rucker said. “We have all learned our roles and become our own individual leaders and we are more of a team lead by example than one vocal leader.”

The Lady Rattlers will also face the Lady Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman University Sunday at the Al Lawson Center and the game will be televised on ESPNU.