FORT MYERS, Fla. – In its first home match of the 2014 season, the FGCU sand volleyball team fell to FAU 3-2 Tuesday afternoon. The Eagles fall to 1-2 in dual matches this season, while the Owls earn their first win to move to 1-5 on the year.
The no. 5 pair of Madi Wilcox (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein High School) and Marlene Moeller (Ludinghausen, Germany/Pascal Gymnasium) earned the Eagles their first home victory by defeating Lexi Rhem and Kristi Tekavec of FAU. The duo dropped a close 19-21 first game, but then bounced back with a 21-19 victory in the second game. In the deciding third game, the Eagles took an early 3-1 lead and maintained the lead to end with a 15-12 victory.
“I really impressed with the response from Marlene and Madi after a first set loss,” said head coach Matt Botsford. “They came back to win the next two and much of that was a function of their game management and improved defensive effort.”
At no. 1, senior Kaitlin Holm (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers High School/Marshall) and junior Whitney Masters (Muncie, Ind./Wapahani High School) also earned a win for the Eagles. The duo lost the first set 15-21 before coming back for a 21-15 win in set two and picking up a victory in the deciding set, 15-9.
“Kaitlin and Whitney continue to play at a high level,” explained Botsford of the veteran pair. “They have excellent ball control and both see the court well, which makes them a tough team to beat.”
The no. 2 pair, Karina Mambuca (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast High School) and freshman Caroline Jordan (Orlando, Fla./William R. Boone High School) battled hard for a win but fell narrowly, 18-21, 18-21.
Elenora Kazarian (Tibilisi, Georgia/College of Central Florida) and Vanessa Benke (Toledo, Brazil/College of Central Florida) paired at no. 3 but fell to FAU, 8-21, 19-21 in their first match in Southwest Florida.
Rounding out the Eagles’ lineup was the no. 4 duo of Olivia Mesner (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River High School) and Shelby Joslin (Alva, Fla./Evangelical Christian High School) went 12-21 in the first match against FAU’s Megan Knapp and Mandy McIntosh. They battled hard in the second game, but ultimately fell 13-21 in the second game to drop the match.
“Our other teams continue to make strides on the sand and these duals will help to add to their overall development,” continued Botsford. “Experience is a huge factor in the sport, so exposure to match settings becomes invaluable.”
The Eagles will return to action this weekend when they travel to DeLand, Fla. to take on Atlantic Sun foes Stetson and Jacksonville. FGCU will face both teams in the afternoon on Friday, March 21 and will take the teams on again on Saturday, March 22.