Florida Gulf Coast
11/21/2013 | Kennesaw, Ga. | Attendance: 0
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KENNESAW, Ga. – The 2013 Atlantic Sun Volleyball Championship will begin Thursday, Nov. 21 as the No. 4 FGCU Eagles take on No. 5 Stetson in the first round. The first set is slated to begin at 5 p.m. at the Kennesaw State Convocation Center and can be viewed live on ESPN3.
The Green and Blue enter the postseason tournament after finishing the season with an overall record of 13-18 and an Atlantic Sun mark of 9-9. The team ended the slate ranked fourth among conference foes.
After winning the regular season, but falling in the first round of the 2012 Atlantic Sun Championship, the Eagles will look to reclaim the title at Kennesaw State this weekend.
“The team was very crisp in our last couple of practices,” explained head coach Dave Nichols of the team’s eagerness to play this weekend. “It’s been a season where, due to injuries, we’ve had to change our lineup a lot. We seem to be peaking with the last lineup we’ve used and I think the girls are in a great state of mind. We know that everyone is 0-0 entering the tournament and we’ve played everyone tough this year, even when we haven’t been our best. The team is loose and ready to go and hopefully we play our best ball of the year.”
The Eagles will use a strong lineup to challenge the Hatters on Thursday.
Junior outside hitter Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City High School) currently leads the Eagle offense with 3.22 kills per set, while Atlantic Sun All-Second Team award winner Kaitlin Holm (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers High School) has contributed 2.99 kills per set during her senior season.
The Eagles’ other Second-Team member, Olivia Mesner (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River High School) joins Christine Pinder (Gainesville, Fla./Buchholz High School) to add to the attack with 2.81 and 2.30 kills per set, respectively. Junior Gigi Meyer (Gainesville, Fla./Buchholz HS) facilitates the offense and ranks third in the A-Sun with 10.56 assists per set.
Defensively, Whitney Masters (Muncie, Ind./Wapahani High School) paces the Green and Blue with a team-high 459 digs on the season, while senior Karina Mambuca (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast High School) leads all players with 89 blocks through 110 sets. Holm also adds to the blocking effort with 80 total blocks in 103 sets.
As a unit, the Eagles have maintained an attacked percentage of .207 this season but have allowed foes to hit .229 in 33 matches. The team has recorded 12.7 kills per set with 15.2 digs and 1.8 blocks per stanza.
LAST TIME OUT
To conclude the 2013 slate, the Eagles traveled to Northern Kentucky and Lipscomb. The Green and Blue picked up a 3-0 win at NKU to clinch a position in the postseason tournament but fell 3-0 to Lipscomb in the final match of the regular season.
Holm led the Eagles with eight kills in the three-set match at Lipscomb, while Mambuca added 11 digs and Meyer aided the team with 26 assists.
The Hatters of Stetson University finished the regular season with an overall record of 18-15 and a conference mark of 9-9. The Eagles edged the Hatters in the standings with a sets-won advantage as the Green and Blue won four sets over the Hatters and dropped three this season. The Hatters clinched their position in the A-Sun Tournament with a 3-1 win over FGCU in the Eagles’ final home game of the season.
Senior Kaley Melville, a 2013 All-Atlantic Sun Second-Team selection, ranks eighth among A-Sun competitors and leads the Hatters’ attack with 3.35 kills per set. Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman Team member Tiffany Creamer adds to the offense with 2.89 kills per set, while sophomore Kayla Weller has facilitated the duo with 10.12 assists per stanza. Sophomore Michelle Kastner has paced the Hatter defense with 3.42 digs per set.
As a unit, the Hatters have maintained a .217 attack percentage through 121 sets, while holding opponents to .195. The team averages 12.7 kills per set, with 11.9 assists, 14.6 digs and 1.8 blocks per stanza.
The Eagles hold the advantage in the all-time series against the Hatters with 10 wins and just two losses since 2007. FGCU has defeated Stetson five times while on the road in DeLand, Fla. but saw a four-game overall win streak against the A-Sun foe snapped in a 3-1 loss at Alico Arena this season. Prior to this season, the lone blemish in the all-time record was a 3-2 loss at Stetson in 2011. The teams have never met in the Atlantic Sun Championship.
With a win in the first round, the Eagles would move on to face No. 1 Jacksonville on Friday, Nov. 22 at 5 p.m. The Atlantic Sun Championship match is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23. All games will be streamed live on ESPN3. The single-elimination tournament also features ETSU (#2), Lipscomb (#3) and host Kennesaw State (#6).