On the last day of the Hilton Garden Inn classic, the FGCU Volleyball team showed up and dominated New Orleans and VCU in three sets to finish the two-day classic 3-0.
FGCU took the lead in first two sets, but trailed in the third set coming back against the Privateers to end victorious. FGCU totaled 44 kills, Amanda Carroll attaining 13 of those kills, and totaled 45 digs with Courtney Stephens notching 16 of the 45 digs. The Privateers totaled 24 kills and 34 digs. Setter Maggie Rick totaled 34 assists by allowing the Eagles to stay versatile between hits and tips.
FGCU came out with a strong offense to start the first set, with Ciara DeBell swinging through a tough block followed by a powerful kill cross court from Carroll. The first set consisted of very strong and consistent attempts and kills from the outside pins, giving the Eagles a two-point lead.
New Orleans put a strong block against FGCU, forcing them to tool off them or swing throughout the first set. The Privateers stayed defensive with their front row. A strong tip through the block from Rick continued to add to FGCU’s lead, followed by a ripped cross-court kill from Marlene Moeller to create a four-point gap with FGCU leading 15 to 11. Following a time out, Carroll added another kill to the list and Daniele Serrano came up big for the Eagles with a big middle block, contributing to the three-point gain to move the score to 18-14.
The two teams rallied back and forth, tying the set 23-23.The Privateers came back after trailing early on, but Carroll answered with an aggressive kill from the outside to bring FGCU to match point. An error from New Orleans closed out the first set, 26-24.
The second set started much differently than the first, as FGCU brought a new level of intensity. FGCU quickly pulled away to gain a five-point lead early on, 7-2 forcing New Orleans to take a time out. Following the time out, an effective kill from Moeller allowed DeBell to continue serving to advance the score 9-3. Strong serves from Carolina Jordan kept New Orleans on their toes as FGCU advanced the score to 18-8.
In the end, FGCU took the second set, 25-11.
After two back to back set wins, the Eagles started off set three at a slower pace.
FGCU’s four consecutive errors allowed the Privateers to take the lead, 5-1. The lineup for the third set changed from the first two sets as Giovanna Borgiotti entered the game as outside hitter and Kaitlan Krivdo as middle blocker. A tip kill from Rick allowed DeBell to continue serving as they made their way back 6-5 with New Orleans still leading the way.
A big block from Krivdo and Carroll helped the Eagles tie the set at eight a piece.
The rallies continued to go back and forth while exchanging leads. Another block form DeBell tied up the game at 13. Stephen’s consistent serves lead to the Eagles to grab six consecutive points and lead 19-13. New Orleans got the ball, reaching 17 points compared to FGCU’s match point, 24. Krivdo and DeBell’s block sealed the deal for the Eagles as they won their final set, 25-17.
FGCU once again took three straight sets to defeat VCU in their last game of the classic.
The third match saw more intensity than the first two matches, as the teams battled neck and neck while exchanging the lead throughout the first and second sets against VCU. FGCU’s defense was a key part to their game plan, earning 47 digs compared to VCU’s 36 digs. The offense had to stay versatile as the Rams put up a big block, forcing the Eagles to change up the attacks, but the Eagles still achieved 45 kills during the match compared to the Rams’ 33 kills.
“After we did not play as crisp during the first set, we came back and started to clean up our side of the net and that made a big difference,” Head Coach Matt Botsfold said. “We got to see everyone on the roster who is healthy play and it’s nice knowing our options.”
The first set started off with a big tip from Leigh Pudwill to give the Eagles the first point of the match. The first set continued to go point for point, as FGCU answered with big swings and a kill from Pudwill on the right side, followed by a solid block from VCU to add more points to the Rams’ side. VCU scored three consecutive points to tie the set at 11.
After FGCU’s timeout, DeBell returned with an aggressive kill from the outside through a big block to give FGCU the lead, 15-14. A big block from Daniele Serrano and DeBell, and a kill from DeBell, left the Eagles four points away from set point, 21-17. VCU started to battle back when FGCU missed three serves in a row.
“You aren’t going to win every point, so you have to come back and stay calm and collected,” Stephens said. “You can’t let it show when you make a mistake and you have to encourage your teammates when they make a mistake.”
A kill from Marlene Moeller took FGCU to set point and Moeller’s block ends set one in FGCU’s favor, 25-21.
Set two began with VCU taking a quick 2-0 lead. Serrano’s kill and a hitting error from VCU tied the game back up at two. A kill for DeBell breaks through the block, giving FGCU a lead of 7-5.
“Our floor defense was incredible,” Setter Maggie Rick said. “Courtney, our libero, is doing so good. She is picking everything up and making my job a whole lot easier.”
Pudwill swung high and into the back court to achieve another kill, adding another point for the Eagles to attain a five-point lead, 14-9.
After some intense rallies and a timeout, VCU started to make a comeback with a three-point run that was ended by a service error. Carroll achieved another kill aiming for the line, making the score 20-14 and allowing DeBell to continue serving. Set two came to an end when VCU’s block went out of bounds, leaving the score at 25-19.