ESTERO, Fla. – Looking to earn their first home win of the season, the FGCU sand volleyball team returns to Estero for Atlantic Sun action this weekend with matches against Mercer and North Florida. Coming off a tough mid-week schedule where their last match had to be called due to limited lighting, the 1-8 Eagles are looking to earn not only their first home win, but their first conference win this season.
The Eagles will host Mercer and North Florida at the Estero Community Park on Friday and Saturday. FGCU will take on North Florida at noon on Friday to begin the weekend before facing Mercer at 2 p.m. On Saturday, the Eagles will face Mercer at 10 a.m. and North Florida at 2 p.m.
Senior Kaitlin Holm (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers HS/Marshall) and junior Whitney Masters (Muncie, Ind./Wapahani HS) have been doing well for the Eagles this season as the no. 1 pair. The duo went 2-0 against FIU and FAU and led in their third match before it was called to darkness. Against FIU on Tuesday, the pair was the only team to earn a win in the 4-1 loss. Against FAU, the duo pushed out a three-set win, winning with a third-set score of 18-16. Holm and Masters are looking to continue their success in the no. 1 spot this weekend to earn more wins for the Eagles.
“Our focus as we enter this weekends’ matches is to improve our side-out game,” said head coach Matt Botsford. “We have been doing some nice things defensively, but all of our teams can benefit from more consistency in our point scoring output on the offensive end.”
Changes in pairing at the no. 2 through 4 spots has also seemed to help the Eagles. Vanessa Benke (Toledo, Brazil/College of Central Florida) has moved to the no. 2 spot with Karina Mambuca (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast High School). On Tuesday, the pair beat FAU in three sets, while falling to FIU in two. Freshman Caroline Jordan (Orlando, Fla./William R. Boone High School) joined Olivia Mesner (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River High School) at the no. 3 spot to pick up a win over FAU.
“With the changes in pairings, I am also looking forward to the competitive response of our players as they adapt to changing personnel,” said Botsford. “Every player has played together in practice, so they all know how one another plays and they are comfortable with the changes.”
At the no. 4 spot will be Shelby Joslin (Alva, Fla./Evangelical Christian High School) and Elenora Kazarian (Tibilisi, Georgia/College of Central Florida). The no. 5 pair will continue to be Madi Wilcox (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein High School) and Marlene Moeller (Ludinghausen, Germany/Pascal Gymnasium).
Mercer, 5-3 on the season, travels to Estero after spending the weekend at the South Carolina Tournament. The Bears went 2-1, losing to University of Alabama-Birmingham before earning wins over LSU and Louisiana-Monroe.
North Florida, currently 7-3, traveled to Stetson Tuesday and earned their first two Atlantic Sun wins 3-2 over the Hatters.
The Eagles will travel to Miami next Friday for the FIU Surf & Turf Tournament. They will compete against host FIU, FAU, LSU and North Florida.