Eagles Upset Spartans in First Round
MIAMI SHORES, Fla.— Florida Gulf Coast picked an opportune time to pull off perhaps the biggest upset in Division II volleyball this season.
The sixth-seeded Eagles shocked the tournament field with a 31-29, 30-28, 30-26 win over the #3 seed Tampa Spartans (ranked 9th nationally) in the NCAA Division II South Region Volleyball Tournament hosted by Barry University in the Health & Sports Center.
“They are an extremely good program and well coached,” said FGCU head coach Jaye Flood. "I told our kids to stay close, within 2 to 3 points. They had nothing to lose. The last time we played them, we were behind the entire match. This time we put pressure on them.”
The first game was a tight affair, with neither team able to pull away. Freshman hitter Brooke Youngquist sparked the offense with 11 kills in game one while freshman libero Whitney Hendry continually thwarted the Spartans attack with 11 digs en route to a 31-29 win.
"Coach wanted me to step up today", said Youngquist, who made just the fifth start of her career after battling a knee injury most of the year. "There was no way I was going to miss this game."
In game two, the Eagles built a 17-14 lead, but a 7-1 run after a timeout gave the Spartans a 21-18 advantage. FGCU rallied to tie the game at 26. Five kills each from Youngquist and freshman hitter Heather Van Olst led the Eagles. Kristy Hartley put down the last kill as the Eagles surged to a 2-0 lead.
In game three, the Eagles broke open a 23-23 tie and closed the game with a 4-1 run, led by three kills from Hartley.
“They changed their rotation, and that was a huge difference in the game,” Tampa coach Chris Catanach said. “They made adjustments and we didn’t."
For the match, Youngquist posted her second double-double of the season with a career-high 20 kills and added a career-high 19 digs. Watts had 12 kills and Hartley added nine. Whitney Hendry anchored an Eagles defense with 25 digs, slowing down the 13th best offensive team in the nation.
"It was so exciting to be able play our best game against a really good team”, said Watts. "We just want to play our game.”
Outside hitter Erica Womack, an honorable mention All-America selection in 2003, was held to 15 kills to pace the Spartans. Libero Margeaux Sinibaldi had 27 digs for Tampa.
The Eagles will now face #2 seed North Florida (29-5 and ranked 8th nationally), a 3-0 winner over Presbyterian, in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 19 at 5:30 pm.
Florida Gulf Coast def. Tampa 31-29,30-28,30-26
Florida Gulf Coast (24-5) (Kills-aces-blocks) - Youngquist, Brooke 20-0-0; Watts, Devon 12-1-0; Hartley, Kristy 9-0-2; Van Olst, Heather 7-2-1; Brooks, Lori 4-0-1; Manovill, Laura 3-2-0; Hendry, Whitney 0-1-0; Totals 55-6-3.0. (Assists) - Manovill, Laura 47. (Dig leaders) - Hendry, Whitney 25; Youngquist, Brooke 19; Van Olst, Heather 14; Manovill, Laura 9
Tampa (24-6) (Kills-aces-blocks) - Ericka Womack 15-0-0; Tarah Marinelli 12-0-0; Kayla Mora 10-0-2; Katelen Dixon 7-2-2; Erin Clark 7-0-4; Sara Ellis 2-0-0; Danielle Bist 2-0-0; Lindsay Blakeley 0-1-0; Molly Greenwood 0-1-0; Totals 55-4-6.0. (Assists) - Sara Ellis 46. (Dig leaders) - Margeaux Sinibaldi 27; Katelen Dixon 13
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