Sand Volleyball Produces Strong Showing to Begin Season
Saturday, March 08, 2014 | by Jamie Church (@jlchurch)
Kaitlin Holm earned a win at no. 1 with Whitney Masters  (Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson)
Kaitlin Holm earned a win at no. 1 with Whitney Masters (Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson)

DeLAND, Fla. – The FGCU sand volleyball team opened the 2014 season with two dual matches on Friday at the Stetson Sand Courts.  The Eagles swept Warner University 5-0 before falling in a competitive match to Tulane University 3-2.  The 1-1 mark is the best start for an FGCU sand team in three years of competition.

“I was very pleased with our performance,” said newly-named head coach Matt Botsford. “It was especially satisfying when you consider this was our first event of the season. I was impressed with the overall competitiveness of all our pairs, which is reflection of the work they have been putting and the direction that coaches Holly [Herbers] and Chris [Sweat] have been providing.”

In the morning match against Warner the Eagles earned wins in each matchup.  Madi Wilcox (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein High School) and Marlene Moeller (Ludinghausen, Germany/Pascal Gymnasium) defeated their competition at no. 5 for the Eagles’ first-win of the season.  The duo recorded scores of 21-5 and 21-15 to put the Eagles ahead.

Olivia Mesner (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River High School) and Shelby Joslin (Alva, Fla./Evangelical Christian High School) added to the team’s score with a three-set win at no. 4.  Mesner and Joslin fell 19-21 in the first set but responded with a 21-11 victory and pulled ahead with a 15-13 win in the final set.

At no. 1, Kaitlin Holm (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers High School) and Whitney Masters (Muncie, Ind./Wahahani High School) earned a win at 21-7 and 21-10 to seal the match victory for FGCU.

At no. 3 newcomers Elenora Kazarian (Tibilisi, Georgia/College of Central Florida) and Vanessa Benke (Toledo, Brazil/College of Central Florida) earned a win at 21-10 and 21-12, while the no. 2 pair Karina Mambuca (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast High School) and freshman Caroline Jordan (Orlando, Fla./William R. Boone High School) won 21-11, 21-15 to complete the sweep in favor of the Green and Blue.

Wilcox and Moeller began the afternoon match with a win over Tulane’s no. 5 pair to put the Eagles ahead early on.  Wilcox and Moeller won 21-15 in set one before falling 21-11 in set two.  The duo earned a 15-12 win in set three to take the victory and move to 2-0 on the day as a pair.

Mesner and Joslin dropped the no. 4 matchup with close scores in all three sets.  The pair fell 23-21 in set one before winning set two 21-16.  The defining set went to 16-14 with Tulane winning to bring the match to 2-1 through three pairs.

At no. 1, Holm and Masters fell 21-15, 21-16 to drop behind Tulane but Benke and Kazarian defeated Tulane at no. 3, 21-8, 21-18 to even the match again at 2-2.

The no. 2 set was the final to finish with Mambuca and Jordan falling in another close three-set matchup.  Mambuca and Jordan won set one 21-11 but fell 21-17 in set two.  Set three was decided by just four points as Tulane finished with a 15-11 win to earn the dual match victory.

The Eagles will return to action on Saturday morning at the Stetson Pairs Tournament on the Stetson Sand Courts in DeLand.  Saturday’s Pairs Tournament will feature the same lineup and will begin at 9 a.m.  Full results from both events will be posted at FGCUAthletics.com as matches are completed.

Following the team’s opening weekend, the Eagles will travel return to Fort Myers to take on Florida Atlantic University on Tuesday, March 18.  The team will return to DeLand to face Jacksonville and Stetson the weekend of March 21-22.