DeLand, Fla. - The Florida Gulf Coast University women's volleyball team opened Atlantic Sun Conference play with a victory Tuesday night.
FGCU (2-5 overall, 1-0 A-Sun) cruised past Stetson 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-11) at the Edmunds Center in DeLand, Florida.
The Eagles trailed 4-2 in the opening set but never fell behind again in any of the three sets after regaining the lead.
"I thought we played average," FGCU head coach Dave Nichols said. "We were fairly efficient and didn't really do anything spectacular but we accomplished what we wanted to."
After falling behind early, FGCU came right back and took a 10-6 lead in the first sets thanks to a kill by freshman Brittany Muse (Arcadia, Fla.). FGCU stretched that lead to 17-11 after three consecutive service aces by Chandra Lefever (Fort Morgan, Col.). FGCU eventually won the first set 25-16 thanks to a block by junior Jacqueline Cowden (Danville, Calif.) that squashed any hope Stetson had. FGCU's hitting percentage was .194 compared to Stetson's .069 in the first set.
FGCU carried over its momentum over into the second as it opened a 7-1 lead after an ace by sophomore Holly Youngquist (Fort Myers, Fla.). The Hatters closed the gap to 10-8 but the Eagles opened the lead right back up to 16-10 after a kill from Cowden. FGCU led 23-15 after a kill from junior Jelena Simic (Lazarevec, Serbia) and won the second set after Lefever blasted a kill. The Eagles made just four hitting errors in 31 total attempts in the second set.
The third set proved to be the least competitive of the match. Stetson (0-7 overall, 0-1 A-Sun) hit -.120 for the set while FGCU hit .406. The Eagles made just three errors in 32 total attempts. They opened a 13-4 lead after a kill by Lefever and stretched that lead all the way to 22-8 thanks to a kill by junior Laurel England (Rochester, N.Y.). Cowden's seventh kill of the match gave FGCU the third set 25-11 and snapped the Eagles' 3-match losing streak.
Simic had a game-high 11 kills for the Eagles. Junior Emma Racila (Fort Myers, Fla.) chipped in with eight kills of her own.
Lefever had a game-high 32 assists and a game-high four aces while Youngquist led all players with 17 digs. Junior Alexa Napoleon (Naples, Fla.) also had eight digs for the Eagles.
The Eagles have three matches left of their season-opening 10-match road trip. They will take on conference foes Campbell on Friday, East Tennessee State on Saturday and USC Upstate on Monday.
"We feel like after that our most difficult road trips will be behind us," Nichols said. "That helps set us up to be rested in November for the playoffs.”