@FGCU_VB Uses Five-Set Thriller to Advance to Atlantic Sun Semifinal
|Florida Gulf Coast||28||25||25||17||15|
|Stats at a Glance||STET||FGCU|
CREAMER - 3
KENNESAW, Ga. – For the third-consecutive year, the FGCU women’s volleyball team will advance to the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Conference Volleyball Championship. The No. 4 Eagles move on with a 3-2 win over No. 5 Stetson.
The Eagles fell to Stetson in a long first set (30-28) before responding to take 2-1 lead with wins in sets two and three (25-18, 25-12). The Hatters evened the match with a 25-17 win in the fourth stanza but a 15-12 triumph in the final set gave the Green and Blue the victory and a chance to stay alive in the conference tournament.
“It was an exciting match tonight,” explained head coach Dave Nichols. “These two teams know each other well and it provided an even matchup. What I liked most was the team showing resolve through the entire match. After losing such a close set to open the match, the team really came back strong and continued with a strong third set. We fell off a little bit in the fourth set but we showed fortitude in the fifth set and never let our guard down. I’m so proud of this team and this win and how we closed out tonight’s match.”
The Eagles produced an attack percentage of .197 through the five-set bout, while holding the Hatters to an attack percentage of .129.
Individually, senior Kaitlin Holm (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers High School) led the team with a career-high 22 kills on the night. Olivia Mesner (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River High School) added 14 kills to aid the Eagle offense, while junior Gigi Meyer (Gainesville, Fla./Buchholz High School) helped the offense power past Stetson with 50 assists through five sets.
Defensively, Whitney Masters (Muncie, Ind./Wapahani High School) led all players with 34 digs and a receive percentage of .921. Holm added 14 digs for her third double-double of the season. Senior Karina Mambuca (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast High School) and Meyer produced an additional 11 digs each for the Eagles, while Mambuca led the team with six total blocks in the match.
The first set was hard fought as the teams tied the score on 20 occasions and saw 13 lead changes. The Eagles and Hatters went point-for-point for nearly the entire set. With the stanza tied at 28, the Hatters forced two-consecutive errors by FGCU to seal a 30-28 victory and take the initial lead.
The Eagles responded well and opened the second set with an 8-3 lead. After a Stetson timeout, the Green and Blue extended the advantage to 18-10 and never relinquished the lead. The Eagles combined for 16 kills in the second set and ultimately took the win, 25-18, to tie the match at one set each.
In the third stanza, the Eagles held Stetson to an attack percentage of -.083, while producing a percentage of .222 and 14 kills. The teams tied on the first two points but the Eagles maintained their momentum to take a 10-point lead very quickly. FGCU increased its lead to 23-8 and sealed the win at 25-12 on a kill from Mesner.
With the match on the line, Stetson battled through the fourth set to even the score at two. The Hatters produced a 5-0 run to begin the set and went ahead 15-5 with strong attacks. The Eagles fought to cut the deficit late in the match but could not overcome the Hatters. Stetson evened the match with a 25-17 win and sent the contest to a fifth set.
The final set saw seven ties and three lead changes as the teams traded points to tie at 8-8. The Eagles went ahead 11-9 before calling timeout to set up the offense. A contructed kill from Holm gave the Eagles their largest lead of the set at 12-9 before two kills from Mambuca put FGCU ahead, 14-11. At match point the Eagles saw a kill from Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City High School) give the team a 15-12 win and a position in the tournament semifinals.
With the win, the Green and Blue will continue play in Kennesaw, Ga. with the semifinal round of the 2013 Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. The Eagles will take No. 1 Jacksonville on Friday, Nov. 22. The match is set to begin at 5 p.m. and can be viewed live on ESPN3.
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