@FGCU_VB Prepared to Begin Conference Action
Thursday, September 19, 2013 | by Jamie Church (@jlchurch)
The Eagles look to extend a conference-opener win streak to three years
The Eagles look to extend a conference-opener win streak to three years
Jacksonville (10-1 (1-0 ASun))
Florida Gulf Coast (1-10 (0-1 ASun))
9/20/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 482
Jacksonville252525 -- --
Florida Gulf Coast202019 -- --
Stats at a GlanceJUFGCU
Hitting Pct..300.180
Total Attacks110100
Statistical LeadersJUFGCU
KillsROMAN - 13
AssistsCOURTNEY - 41
MEYER - 27
DigsMILLER - 13

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s volleyball team will open Atlantic Sun Conference play on Friday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. when they host Jacksonville University at Alico Arena.  The Eagles will continue A-Sun action on Saturday, Sept. 21 as they welcome the University of North Florida for a 7 p.m. match.

The Green and Blue enter the conference seasosn with a record of 1-9 after taking on some of the nation’s top teams during the nonconference schedule.  The Eagles most recently fell to then-No. 3 Penn State, who is now ranked as the top team in the country, but also faced No. 23 Ohio State and No. 15 Florida State in the last three weeks.  The nonconference slate included five teams that participated in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. 

Junior Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City High School) leads the Eagles offensively this season, averaging 3.14 kills per set to rank among the top-10 in the Atlantic Sun.  Senior Kaitlin Holm (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers High School) has added 3.03 kills per set and also ranks among the league’s best. 

Junior Gigi Meyer (Gainesville, Fla./Buchholz HS) has facilitated the offense with 325 assists through 10 games this year.  Meyer ranks fifth among the A-Sun’s setters with 9.85 assists per set.  Atlantic  Sun Preseason Libero of the Year Whitney Masters (Muncie, Ind./Wapahani High School) leads the Eagles with 3.79 digs per set.

FGCU fell in a three-set match to then No. 3 Penn State to conclude the 2013 Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites Classic last weekend.  The Eagles challenged the Nittany Lions through three sets with strong play from Barnes, Meyer and Christine Pinder (Gainesville, Fla./Buchholz High School)Although the Eagles fell in three-straight sets, FGCU fought Penn State to tie scores on eight occasions through the final two sets and gathered a historic crowd with over 2,000 fans in attendance.  

The Eagles are 5-1 in conference openers since joining the Atlantic Sun in 2007.  The lone blemish on the record is a 3-2 loss against Jacksonville in 2010.  FGCU redeamed itself with a season-opening win over Jacksonville in 2011.  Last season, the Eagles took their conference opener with a 3-0 win over Kennesaw State and went on to begin conference action with a 14-0 record.

The Dolphins of Jacksonville University are 9-1 on the year as they enter conference action.  JU began the season 9-0 with wins over in-state opponents Bethune-Cookman, Florida Atlantic and Florida International before falling to the University of Central Florida on Wednesday evening.  The team has lost just six sets in 10 matches.  Sophomore Sammie Straughbaugh leads the team with 3.64 kills per set and 3.81 digs per set.  The former Atlantic Sun All-Rookie team member has compiled 120 kills and 105 digs in nine matches.  Kendall Courtney has assisted the Dophins as the team’s setter.  Courtney has amassed 377 assists in 10 matches with an average of 10.11 assists per set.

The Eagles and Dolphins have faced off 13 times since FGCU transitioned to Division I.  The Eagles hold a 9-4 advantage and have defeated the Dolphins in the last four meetings.  The last time the Green and Blue fell to JU at Alico Arena was 2009.

Last season, the Eagles defeated the Dolphins 3-0 in Jacksonville before earning a 3-0 win again at Alico Arena.  The win at Alico extended the Eagles’ win streak to 15 matches and secured a top-two position at the Atlantic Sun tournament.  Then sophomore Olivia Mesner (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River HS) finished with a match-high 11 kills and seven blocks, while Holm chipped in with 11 kills and five blocks in the win.

The University of North Florida begins conference play with a record of 3-7 this season.  The Ospreys will take on Stetson on Friday before coming to Fort Myers for a Saturday night contest.  The team is 0-3 on the road and 0-4 in its last four contests.  Senior Anna Budinska leads the offense with 4.0 kills per set and 124 kills on the season.  Rookie Abby Feel has facilitated the offense with 8.08 assists per set, while Britt Claessens adds 6.10 assists per set.  Junior Cari Whitmire paces the team with 4.26 digs per set and has compiled 145 on the year.

The Eagles have held a strong advantage over UNF since transitioning to Division I in 2007.  FGCU holds a 12-0 advantage in the win-loss record during regular-season competition in that time and has fallen to UNF just three times in program history.  The most recent loss came in the 2012 Atlantic Sun tournament when No. 4 UNF defeated top-seed FGCU in the first round.  UNF went on to the A-Sun final where they fell to ETSU.

In last year’s regular-season matchups the Eagles defeated UNF 3-1 on the road and took a 3-0 win at Alico Arena.  The win on the road served as FGCU’s 13th-consecutive win and clinched a position in the A-Sun tournament with a 12-0 conference mark.

Following the weekend, the Eagles will continue conference action with matches next Friday and Saturday evening.  FGCU will host Kennesaw State on Friday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. and will face Mercer on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.

2013-14 volleyball tickets are 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.