FORT MYERS, Fla - The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s volleyball team moved into sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Sun Conference Thursday night with a 3-1 (25-22, 14-25, 25-22, 25-17) win over Mercer at Alico Arena.
With the win, FGCU (8-7, 7-2) moved ahead of idle Jacksonville into second place and sits two games behind A-Sun leader Lipscomb.
“We had a good two weeks of practice coming in,” FGCU coach Dave Nichols said. “I was frustrated with how we played in the second game but glad we came and finished the match strong.”
FGCU started slow as it fell behind 3-0 early in game one. A kill by senior Ashley Yance (Fort Myers, Fla) put FGCU up 8-6 and the Eagles eventually extended that lead to 12-7 after an ace by senior Chandra Lefever (Fort Morgan, Col.). Junior Jelena Simic (Lazarevec, Serbia) blasted a kill to put the Eagles up 18-14 but the Bears crept back in as they cut the lead to 19-17. Another kill by Yance put FGCU up 21-18 and a kill by junior Laurel England (Rochester, N.Y.) put FGCU up 22-19. England clinched the game for the Eagles with an ace that propelled FGCU to a 25-22 game one victory.
Mercer dominated the Eagles in game two as it never trailed. FGCU fell behind 3-0 again but got within 8-6 after a kill by junior Jacqueline Cowden (Danville, Calif.). That is as close as the Eagles would get however as Mercer continued to stretch its lead. Three kills from Simic allowed FGCU to hang around but the Bears claimed game two 25-14.
Game three was competitive just as game one was as the games even ended the same way with FGCU winning 25-22. A block by Cowden tied the score at eight apiece and a kill by Simic put FGCU up 10-9. A kill by Yance put FGCU ahead at 15-14 and the Eagles stretched that lead to 18-16 thanks to an ace by freshman Lindsey Childs (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). An emphatic kill by Lefever got the home crowd riled up and put the Eagles up 22-20. The Alico Arena faithful erupted again when Simic blasted a kill that gave the Eagles game three and a 2-1 advantage.
The Bears never recovered from losing the fourth game. Junior Emma Racila (Fort Myers, Fla.) put the Eagles up early 7-4 with an ace that bounced off the net and to the ground. An ace by Yance put FGCU up 11-5 and the Eagles eventually stretched that lead to 19-9 after a series of kills by Cowden. Racila had back-to-back kills to put FGCU up 21-10 and a kill by Yance won the match for FGCU with a 25-17 game four victory.
Simic had a match-high 15 kills for the Eagles while Racila and Cowden chipped in with 14 apiece. Yance finished the match with 11 kills. Lefever had a match-high 45 assists to go along with 20 digs.
The Eagles will host A-Sun foe Kennesaw State Saturday at 3 p.m. at Alico Arena.
“They’re very athletic,” Nichols said. “They are playing much better volleyball (than last season). We’ll have to do a good job on Saturday.”