Know Your Foe: Sugar Bears play two in Jacksonville

Conway, Ark. – Central Arkansas will make the trip south to Jacksonville, Florida to take on North Florida on Friday, and Jacksonville on Saturday. Both of these matches are great opportunities for UCA, as the Sugar Bears are 0-1 against both teams in conference play all-time.

The Sugar Bears are coming off a week with some incredible successes. UCA started things off with a win over Little Rock that puts Central Arkansas squarely in the lead in the Governor’s I-40 Challenge. They followed it up with convincing home wins over Eastern Kentucky and Bellarmine. The cherry on top came on Monday, when Alexis Stumbough was selected as the ASUN Player of the Week. Stumbough has been a consistent factor for UCA since the middle of September, and now is rewarded for a great performance. Caylan Koons was awarded the ASUN Freshman of the Week and Setter of the Week. The Sugar Bears’ offense has run through Koons for a majority of the year, and now it’s getting noticed. Jamiryana Hall, Kendall Haywoodand Mackenzie Vernon have also stepped up for UCA recently, and it goes beyond the stat sheet, as the entire Sugar Bears roster has provided energy over the last few games.

North Florida, coached by Kristen Wright, holds a 4-11 record, with a 2-2 record in ASUN play. While that record shows signs of struggles, it may be misleading. The Ospreys have faced some top talent this year, dropping games to Florida, Auburn, Virginia, Kansas State, Syracuse, and Iowa. Additionally, through the struggles, North Florida has some players to watch this weekend.

Mahalia White has consistently been the biggest threat offensively for North Florida, providing 194 kills on the year, and averaging 3.96 kills per set. The Ospreys typically run their offense through junior setter Jenna Zimmerman, who has contributed 353 assists on the year. The Osprey’s main Libero has been Rocio Moro, who has 241 digs on the year.

The Jacksonville Dolphins are led by coach Maggie Johnson, who is in her third season, much like John Newberry. Jacksonville holds an 8-8 record with a 2-2 record in ASUN play, with wins over Georgia State and Troy. A majority of Jacksonville’s production comes through upperclassmen.

The Dolphins’ kill leader is graduate middle blocker Haley Hart, who has tallied 178 kills to this point. Junior outside hitter Jenna McNamara is not far behind, with 152 kills and 2.53 per set. The Jacksonville leader in assists is junior Rebecca Rocassin, who has put up a whopping 581 assists to this point.

Central Arkansas faces North Florida on Friday, October 7th at 2 pm the game will be streamed through North Florida. Central Arkansas then takes on Jacksonville on Saturday, October 8th at 4 pm You can follow along with every game this season on Twitter at @ucavball.

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