FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s volleyball team cruised to a 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-18) win over USC Upstate in front of 294 fans on Senior Night at Alico Arena.
FGCU concluded its regular season with 16-12 record and a 15-5 mark in Atlantic Sun Conference play.
The Eagles will be either the second or third seed in the A-Sun Conference Tournament beginning November 19 at Alico Arena. If Jacksonville University loses either of its two remaining conference games this weekend, FGCU will be the No.2 seed. If JU wins both games, FGCU will be the No.3 seed by virtue of a 0-2 record against the Dolphins this season.
“We are playing better,” FGCU head coach Dave Nichols said. “We’re still improving on a weekly basis and we have another week to continue to improve.”
The Eagles got off to a fast start in the first set after junior Jelena Simic (Lazarevec, Serbia) blasted a kill that put FGCU up 3-1 and smashed another that put FGCU 7-2. Junior Emma Racila (Fort Myers, Fla.) put the Eagles up 11-6 with a kill but Upstate went on a scoring run and trimmed FGCU’s lead to 16-14. Senior Chandra Lefever (Fort Morgan, Col.) tipped a kill over that put FGCU up 17-14 and the Eagles stretched that lead to 21-16 after another kill by Racila. A kill by senior Ashley Yance (Fort Myers, Fla.) inched FGCU closer to victory at 22-17 and junior Jacqueline Cowden (Danville, Calif.) gave FGCU the first set at 25-21 with a kill.
Cowden put the Eagles up 5-3 early in the second set and Racila pushed that lead to 10-8. Simic’s kill put the Eagles up 12-10 and sophomore Anna Wagner (Lincoln, Neb.) served an ace that pushed FGCU’s advantage to 15-12. Upstate again cut into the Eagle lead but Yance slammed a kill that put FGCU back ahead by three at 21-18. FGCU won the second set 25-20 after the Spartan hitting error. FGCU hit .156 as a team compared to Upstate’s .042.
Upstate opened an early 5-2 lead on the Eagles in the third set. Yance helped FGCU tie the set at six apiece with a block and helped FGCU gain a 12-8 lead with a kill. Upstate roared back again however to tie the score at 13-13. FGCU took a 17-14 advantage after a kill by Simic and a 19-16 lead after a kill by Cowden. Simic then recorded back-to-back kills to put FGCU up 21-16 and the match ended after Yance’s block earned FGCU a 25-18 third set victory.
The Eagles finished the match with an overall hitting percentage of .254 compared to Upstate’s .119.
Simic had a match-high 17 kills for FGCU while Yance chipped in with nine of her own. Racila added eight kills while Cowden finished the match with six.
Simic led FGCU with 13 digs while sophomore Holly Youngquist (Estero, Fla.) had 12 digs. Lefever had a match-high 42 assists in her final regular season home match.
The Eagles next match is against an opponent that has not yet been determined in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. The tournament begins at Alico Arena next Thursday, November 19.