Cowden and Simic Lead Volleyball Past UNF
Saturday, September 26, 2009 | by Carl Bleich

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s volleyball team earned a come-from-behind victory Saturday as it topped North Florida 3-2 (22-25, 19-25, 34-32, 26-24, 15-12) at UNF Arena in Jacksonville.

With the win, FGCU split its two weekend matches in Jacksonville as the team fell to Jacksonville University in five sets on Friday.

Junior Jelena Simic (Lazarevec, Serbia) and junior Jacqueline Cowden (Danville, Calif.) each had 20 kills for FGCU (7-7, 6-2).

The Eagles opened an 8-6 lead in the first game after a kill by freshman Lindsey Childs (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). Back-to-back kills by Simic tied the score at 13 for FGCU but UNF opened a 17-15 lead after a ball handling error by senior Ashley Yance (Fort Myers, Fla.). A kill by Cowden got FGCU within three at 21-18 but UNF won the set 25-22 after a kill by Danielle Lerch.

UNF opened a 2-0 lead after winning the second set 25-19. The teams were tied at 10 after a kill by Cowden and FGCU took a 14-13 lead after a kill by senior Chandra Lefever (Fort Morgan, Colo.). UNF ripped off six consecutive points to take a commanding 19-14 lead however and finished the set off after a kill by Kaley Read.

The Eagles mounted their comeback in an epic third set. Back-to-back kills by junior Emma Racila (Fort Myers, Fla.) gave FGCU an early 9-5 lead. Racila later blasted another kill to tie the set at 18 apiece. The Eagles fought off three match points and eventually pushed the score to 32 apiece. After a service error, an ace by junior Alexa Napoleon (Naples, Fla.) gave FGCU a 34-32 third set victory.

The momentum from the third set did not carry over immediately as FGCU fell behind 5-1 in the fourth set. Racila’s kill tied the score at five but FGCU would fall behind and not tie the score again until each team had 23. FGCU fought off a match point with a kill by Yance then got an attack error by Lerch and an ace from Lefever to steal the fourth set 26-24.

The Eagles never trailed in winning the fifth set 15-12. Junior Laurel England (Rochester, N.Y.) put FGCU ahead 2-0 with an ace. A Yance kill put FGCU up 7-4 and a kill by Simic put the Eagles up 10-6. UNF committed three attack errors setting up Racila’s match-winning kill for FGCU.

Yance finished with nine kills while Racila had eight. Lefever had a team-high 54 assists and also had 17 digs. Simic added 17 digs of her own while Cowden led FGCU with four blocks.

The Eagles will be in action next when they host Mercer on October 8 at 7 p.m. at Alico Arena.