ESTERO, Fla. – In its first home matches of the Atlantic Sun season, the FGCU sand volleyball team fell 5-0 to UNF before being edged by Mercer 3-2 in a tight fight. With the losses, the Eagles fall to 1-10 on the season. UNF improves to 9-3 on the year, while Mercer moves to 6-4.
The Eagles struggled against UNF and dropped all matches in just two sets. In the afternoon matchup with Mercer the Eagles battled to earn two victories and brought all three losing matches to three sets.
“I was much pleased with our general competitive effort today, especially in the end against Mercer and that was a great step forward,” said head coach Matt Botsford. “We still have to manage the technical side of the game. We’re looking to improve our ball control to increase our success.”
The no. 5 pair of Madi Wilcox (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein High School) and Marlene Moeller (Ludinghausen, Germany/Pascal Gymnasium) earned a win over Mercer to begin the afternoon match. The duo took the two-set victory, 21-13, 23-21 to put the Eagles ahead briefly.
At no. 4 Shelby Joslin (Alva, Fla./Evangelical Christian High School) and Elenora Kazarian (Tibilisi, Georgia/College of Central Florida) won set one, 21-16 before dropping set two 21-16. In the decisive set, the pairs battled through every point but FGCU ultimately dropped set three, 15-13.
The Eagles reclaimed the lead with a win from the no. 3 pair of Caroline Jordan (Orlando, Fla./William R. Boone High School) and Olivia Mesner (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River High School). Jordan and Mesner won in two sets with scores of 21-19 and 21-14.
The Bears evened the match at two victories each with a win at no. 2. Vanessa Benke (Toledo, Brazil/College of Central Florida) and Karina Mambuca (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast High School) earned a 21-19 win in the first set but dropped the second set in extra points, 25-23. The third set favored the Bears and enabled Mercer to even the match with a 15-7 win.
The final match of the day went down to the no. 1 matchup with senior Kaitlin Holm (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers HS/Marshall) and junior Whitney Masters (Muncie, Ind./Wapahani HS) representing FGCU. Holm and Masters fell 21-16 in the first set but evened the score with a 21-19 win in set two. With the match on the line, the no. 1 game went to a third set. The duo rallied with Mercer in a competitive bout but ultimately fell, 15-7 to give Mercer the victory.
The Eagles, still looking for their first win at home, will take on the Ospreys and Bears again on Saturday. FGCU will face Mercer at 10 a.m. before challenging UNF at 2 p.m.
North Florida 5, FGCU 0
1. Dagnija Medina/Kimberly Hildreth (UNF) def. Kaitlin Holm/Whitney Masters (FGCU) 21-14, 21-21
2. Anna Budinska/Cari Whitmire (UNF) def. Karina Mambuca/Vanessa Benke (FGCU) 21-9, 21-19
3. Cameron McGuire/Tanner Garbutt (UNF) def. Olivia Mesner/Caroline Jordan (FGCU) 21-14, 21-18
4. Britt Claessens/Julie Trembley (UNF) def. Elenora Kazarian/Shelby Joslin (FGCU) 21-13, 21-12
5. Allison Shirley/Emily Strack (UNF) def. Marlene Moeller/Madi Wilcox (FGCU) 21-11, 21-12
6. Ebony Gunn/Emily Davanzo (UNF) def. Ashley Baker/Katie Gutmann (FGCU) 21-18, 21-14
Mercer 3, FGCU 2
1. Tori Penrod/Natalie Braun (MERCER) def. Kaitlin Holm/Whitney Masters (FGCU) 21-16, 19-21, 15-7
2. Jamie Duffy/Emma Peel (MERCER) def. Karina Mambuca/Vanessa Benke (FGCU) 19-21, 25-23, 15-7
3. Olivia Mesner/Caroline Jordan (FGCU) def. Zoe Becton/Emily Rochefort (MERCER) 21-19, 21-14
4. Caroline Carlton/Demi-Shay Watchorn (MERCER) def. Elenora Kazarian/Shelby Joslin (FGCU) 16-21, 21-16, 15-13
5. Marlene Moeller/Madi Wilcox (FGCU) def. Avery Hoven/Hannah Sorensen (MERCER) 21-13, 23-21
6. Lizzie Knapper/Gretja Otten (MERCER) def. Ashley Baker/Katie Gutmann (FGCU) 21-18
Ashley Baker/Katie Gutmann (FGCU) def. Lizzie Knapper/Gretja Otten (MERCER) 21-14