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@FGCU_VB Drops Tough Decisions to Open Tournament Play
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s volleyball team fell to the University of Central Arkansas in an intense four-set match to open the 2013 Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites Classic at Alico Arena on Friday morning before dropping a 3-0 decision to Marquette in the evening game. With the losses, the Eagles drop to 1-8 on the season and 0-2 at the Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites Classic.
Christine Pinder (Gainesville, Fla./Buchholz High School) led the Eagles offensively with 25 kills on the day. The senior also added 21 digs for FGCU’s defensive effort. The defense was led by junior Whitney Masters (Muncie, Ind./Wapahani High School), who recorded 48 digs through two matches.
The Eagles earned a 25-17 victory in set one against UCA with help from four kills by Pinder, and three each from Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City High School) and Olivia Mesner (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River High School). FGCU held Central Arkansas to a -.128 attach percentage in set one before the Sugar Bears responded.
The Eagles saw four players with double-digit kills, including Pinder who led the team with 19 during the four-set match. Pinder also added 15 digs for her third double-double of the season. Barnes and Holm added 17 and 16 kills, respectively, while Mesner had 10. GiGi Meyer (Gainesville, Fla./Buchholz High School) helped the offense with 57 assists on the match, while Whitney Masters (Muncie, Ind./Wapahani High School) sparked the defense in an intense match with 38 digs.
Central Arkansas went on to take three-consecutive sets, but not without a challenge. Each set went into extra points, with both teams battling for the lead through the entire match. UCA edged the Eagles by scores of 27-25, 27-25 and 26-24 to earn the match victory.
“I thought we got a lot better today,” said head coach Dave Nichols. “In the morning match against central Arkansas we played really great volleyball, they also played great. It was frustrating that we could not close out games, but that’s a very good team. They beat No. 20 Kansas. They played five sets against Arizona. In terms of preparation for the conference, I was really pleased with that.”
The match started with intense play from both sides as the teams traded points with
long rallies. The Eagles took a 12-6 lead on a series of attack errors by the Sugar Bears, forcing UCA to call a timeout. With kills from Holm, Barnes and Pinder the Eagles increased their lead to 22-10. While on the verge of a 10-point lead, the Eagles saw as the Sugar Bears rallied for seven-consecutive points to bring the set to 23-17. Two quick kills from Pinder sealed the set at 25-17 and gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
The Eagles held the momentum into set two and took an 8-5 lead. UCA challenged FGCU but the Green and Blue maintained the lead. The Sugar Bears rallied to tie the game at 18 after two FGCU attack errors but the Eagles stopped any chance at a UCA lead. The teams battled to tie at 19, 20 and 22 before FGCU called timeout. The Sugar Bears took the first lead of the set at 23-22 on a kill but the Eagles tied the game at 23 on a kill from Barnes. The teams once again traded points in an intense series but a kill and an FGCU error allowed UCA to even the match with a 27-25 win in set two.
Set three saw competitive action led by Barnes and Holm, who had six and five kills, respectively. The Eagles fell behind early on in the set but rallied behind a five-point streak to take an 18-13 lead. UCA fought back to score six of the next eight points to bring the score at 20-19. The Sugar Bears tied the game at 20 on a kill that landed just inside the back line and maintained the momentum with strong defensive play from the UCA libero. A series of FGCU misplays helped the Sugar Bears maintain the advantage before sealing the victory 27-25 and going ahead, 2-1.
The Eagles once again took an early lead in set four. After trailing 9-5, the Sugar Bears responded with 10 of the next 15 points scored to tie the game at 15. Central Arkansas went ahead two points, 21-19 on two-straight kills and did not relinquish the lead. The Eagles fought through match point but ultimately fell, 26-24 in set four and dropped the match, 3-1.
After a break, the Eagles returned to action against the Golden Eagles of Marquette. The Marquette match saw a team-high eight kills from Mesner, while Meyer added 24 assists to help the offense and Masters recorded 10 digs on defense.
Set one began as a strong competition, with the teams exchanging points and the lead. After playing to a tie score at 13 all, FGCU took a brief lead on kills from Barnes and Holm. Marquette responded to tie the game again at 19 points. The teams fought for the lead in the closing portion of the set and tied once again at 24. Marquette scored on a kill and an FGCU error to take the two-point lead and the win, 26-24.
Marquette took the lead early in set two and never allowed the Eagles to intervene. The Blue and Green were held to a hitting percentage of .137 and saw as Marquette scored the final 10-of-16 points to take the win, 25-17.
The Eagles increased their hitting percentage to .154 in set three but allowed Marquette to record a percentage of .433 with 17 kills. The teams challenged each other to open the set and tied the set at seven points each. Marquette took an 11-9 lead but saw as FGCU capitalized on three Marquette errors to tie the game at 12. Marquette closed out the game with an eight-point rally to seal the win in the set, 25-16, and the match victory, 3-0.
“Marquette just had too much size for us,” explained Nichols. “We were worn down after playing really well in the first set. They’re a big, physical and talented team, just a really good volleyball team.”
The Eagles will conclude action at the Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites Classic Saturday night when they face No. 3 Penn State at 7 p.m. Following the tournament, the Green and Blue will enter Atlantic Sun Conference play with a match versus Jacksonville on Sept. 20.
2013-14 volleyball tickets are now available by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets. Season tickets are $35 for adults and $17 for youth (ages 3-12). Single-game tickets can also be purchased for $6 per adult and $3 for youth. Groups of 10+ can receive a discounted rate of $3 per person. FGCU students and faculty/staff are admitted for free with a valid University ID.