The Florida Gulf Coast University volleyball began their inaugural season in spectacular fashion with a four-match sweep at the Rollins College Invitational this weekend.
Entering the school’s first-ever match with five freshmen in the starting lineup, the Eagles FGCU continued the school’s tradition of successful sports debuts. Five of the seven varsity team sports at FGCU — volleyball, baseball, softball, women's basketball and women's tennis — have won their opening contests.
The Eagles used a strong performance by junior hitter Devon Watts (Somerville, TX) and solid defensive play to defeat Lenoir Rhyne in four games. Watts registered 22 kills, a .386 kill percentage, 21 digs, 10 assists and three blocks to lead FGCU. Freshman middle blocker Lauren Stockman-Puder (Fort Myers) added 15 kills while sophomore setter Laura Manovill (Dunedin) had 51 assists.
Freshmen middle blockers Heather Van Olst (Loxahatchee) and Stockman-Puder each recorded nine kills to lead the Eagles to a three-game sweep of Mars Hill in match two. Junior hitter and team captain Lori Brooks (Naples) added eight kills and a .467 kill percentage. Manovill had 31 assists as the Eagles registered a team kill percentage of .324.
On day two, the Eagles made quick work of Augusta State in their third match of the tournament. After struggling to a 30-28 win in the opening game, FGCU registered two strong performances to sweep Augusta State. Watts led the Eagles with 14 kills while freshman hitter Tamra Grigsby (West Palm Beach) added 10 kills. Manovill had 36 assists in the match.
The final match between FGCU and Rollins featured two undefeated teams. The first game was a true thriller. The Eagles led by as many as seven points early, but the Tars rallied to tie the score at 20-20. Each ensuing point was a nail-biter as the lead changed hands 10 times before FGCU pulled out a 33-31 victory. The Eagles then swept the final two games for the victory. Watts again paced the Eagles with 13 kills. Manovill had 29 assists and junior Ingrid Felicio (Sarasota) added 21 digs.
The victory over Rollins also provided head coach Jaye Flood with her 100th career victory. Flood’s career mark stands at 100-34, a 75% winning percentage. She had previously been a head coach at Elmhurst College.
The Eagles will face the University of Puerto Rico Rio-Piedras on Friday, September 3 at Barry University in Miami Shores.