ESTERO, Fla. – Entering competition as the no. 5 seed, the FGCU sand volleyball team will compete in and host the 2014 Atlantic Sun Conference Sand Volleyball Tournament Friday, April 18 and Saturday, April 19 at the Estero Community Park. The Eagles welcome the league’s four other teams for the two-day event.
Despite a strong lineup, the Eagles struggled to produce wins in conference play this season and begin tournament play as the no. 5 seed. The Eagles went 0-8 in conference dual matches this season with seven pairs wins.
As a unit, the Eagles are 2-16 on the season with wins over Warner and FAU. In its last dual match of the season, the team fell narrowly to Grand Canyon, 3-2, with the match being determined by extra points in a decisive third set.
Kaitlin Holm (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers HS/Marshall) and junior Whitney Masters (Muncie, Ind./Wapahani High School) have led the Eagles this season at the no. 1 position, while the no. 5 pair of Madi Wilcox (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein High School) and Marlene Moeller (Ludinghausen, Germany/Pascal Gymnasium) holds the team’s best record of the year with a mark of 7-8. The pair last earned a win over Grand Canyon.
The Eagles will also be looking for strong contributions from the no. 2 pair of Elenora Kazarian (Tibilisi, Georgia/College of Central Florida) and Caroline Jordan (Orlando, Fla./William R. Boone High School) and the no. 3 duo of Karina Mambuca (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast High School) and Vanessa Benke (Toledo, Brazil/College of Central Florida). The Eagles’ lineup is rounded out with the no. 4 pair of Olivia Mesner (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River High School) and Shelby Joslin (Alva, Fla./Evangelical High School).
For the third-consecutive year, the Eagles will face Mercer University in the first round. The dual match is slated for 9 a.m. and will be the first match of the tournament. In last year’s tournament, the no. 4 seed Eagles defeated Mercer before falling to UNF and Jacksonville. In 2012, FGCU routed Mercer 4-1 before again falling to UNF.
This year, the bracket plays an identical field for the Eagles as they are set to face Mercer and will battle no. 1 UNF with a win. With a loss, the Eagles will face the loser of the no. 3 Jacksonville/no. 2 Stetson game at 3 p.m.
Mercer enters the tournament as the no. 4 seed with a record of 2-6 in conference action and a mark of 8-11 overall. The Bear’s only two wins in A-Sun play came against the Eagles at the Estero Community Park at the end of March. Mercer edged the Eagles with two 3-2 wins to earn the higher seed.
The Atlantic Sun Conference Championship will take place over two days at the Estero Community Park. The Championship match will be played on Saturday, April 19 at 3 p.m.