The FGCU volleyball team needed one win to clinch a spot in the ASUN Conference Tournament. However, it was not the Eagles’ night, as UNF defeated the Eagles in five sets: 23-25, 25-18, 20-25, 25-17 and 5-15.
Coming into the match, FGCU was on a 22-match winning streak. The Ospreys made sure to put the streak to bed.
In the opening set, the Eagles scored the first three points, where two came from kills by Maggie Rick and Amanda Carroll. The two schools were exchanging leads throughout. FGCU was able to push the lead to three, 19-16, but UNF stormed back, converting on four consecutive possessions to take a one point lead, 20-19.
The Eagles were in the lead with as many as eight in the set, as the Ospreys never grabbed a lead. Freshman Snowy Burnam and Sophomore Daniele Serrano were active on the offensive side of the ball. They both finished the night with 11 kills apiece.
Serrano’s kill allowed the Eagles to tie the match at one. Taryn Griffey’s kill opened the third, and for the first time that night, North Florida was able to grab the first point. Griffey finished her night with 16 kills.
The Eagles never led the set, as the Ospreys were pounding in point-after-point. A kill from Maggie Rick and Daniele Serrano brought FGCU to within four, but Kaitlan Krivdo’s attacking error ended any hopes for a comeback, as UNF took a 2-1 lead in sets.
Burnam’s kill kicked off the fourth set. With North Florida leading 2-1, the Eagles went on a 5-0 scoring burst, with kills coming from Krivdo, Serrano and three errors on the UNF side.
Freshman Cortney VanLiew was not as dominant as usual Friday night, finishing with four kills. FGCU needed crucial scoring runs, as its winning streak was in ultimate jeopardy.
Carroll, Burnam and Serrano came to the rescue, and the freshman duo of VanLiew and Burnam were able to force a decisive fifth set.
The last time Florida Gulf Coast played a match that went to five sets was Sept. 16 in Bloomington, Ind.
Amanda Carroll started it off for FGCU with a kill, and Krivdo’s kill extended the lead to two, 3-1. That would be the final points scored for the Eagles in a while, as North Florida put the icing on the cake, scoring 11 consecutive points.
The tide turned quickly as UNF now led 12-3. Madilyn McCarty’s kill finished it off for the Ospreys, as North Florida picked up its second conference win of the season.
FGCU is now one game back from first place with Kennesaw State’s win over NJIT and Jacksonville’s victory over Stetson.
The Eagles then faced off with Jacksonville Saturday night in the hopes of regaining their dominance.
However, the Eagles fell to Jacksonville in four sets Saturday night: 27-29, 24-26, 25-18 and 23-25. With Stetson’s loss to North Florida, FGCU has clinched a spot in its sixth straight ASUN Volleyball Championship.
In the first, the Eagles jumped out to a 3-0 lead, as Amanda Carroll recorded her third consecutive double-double match. Ahead 4-1, the Dolphins went on a 3-0 run to even the score at four.
With the Eagles in front, 12-10, Cooks and Mattingly brought Jacksonville back in the game and took a 13-12 lead. It looked as if the Dolphins were going to close out the first set, but two critical errors by Jacksonville allowed the Eagles to tie the match at 24.
The Dolphins were able to capitalize, ending the first on a kill by Natalie Wehner and Olga Nushtayeva.
Daniele Serrano, who tied her career high in kills with 14, was big offensively for FGCU in the second. Two attack errors from Serrano and a kill by Wehner allowed JU to go up 2-0 in sets heading for intermission.
Freshman Snowy Burnam’s aggressive play was critical, as she finished the game with 11 kills while Maggie Rick totaled 49 assists and five kills.
With the Dolphins in front, 14-13, the Eagles used a 4-0 run that decided the outcome in the third set.
In the fourth and final set, Jacksonville took a commanding 4-1 lead from the start and never looked back.
Coach Botsford used his two timeouts early, and the Eagles were never able to rally together and force a fifth set for the second straight match.
The Dolphins are now ranked in first place in ASUN standings.
Next, the Eagles will play their final two road games of the season with the first one on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. against NJIT.