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FGCU Volleyball Hosts Invitational, Drops Two of Three to Open the 2023 Season

Jessica Piland
Juliana Lentz (13) spikes against ASU during the Eagle’s season opener Friday August 25, 2023.

Hosting the FGCU Homewood Suites Invitational, the Florida Gulf Coast University women’s volleyball team dropped two of their three matches over the weekend to open the 2023 season during the three-day invitational.

Welcoming Arizona State, Ole Miss and St. John’s to Fort Myers for the weekend invitational to start off the season, FGCU began the 2023 campaign with a 1-2 record with a win over Ole Miss and losses to Arizona State and St. John’s.

Starting the three-day invitational and the season, the Eagles took on Arizona State on Friday night. The Sun Devils got off to a hot start, having no trouble with the Eagles en route to a 25-14 set-one victory. The second set was no different for Arizona State as FGCU managed only 10 points in a 25-10 set-two victory for the Sun Devils.

In the third set, the Eagles responded by taking their first lead early on in the set. It didn’t last long however, as the Sun Devils retook the lead and were able to push the differential between the two teams from five to seven points in the set. But the Eagles were able to rally back, bringing the set within two points at 20-18 and 21-19 leads for the Sun Devils. Unfortunately, it was too little too late for FGCU as Arizona State finished off with a 25-19 to win set-three and swept the Eagles, 3-0.

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On Saturday, FGCU recovered from the difficult first night, winning a back and forth match against Ole Miss, 3-2, having to go to a decisive fifth set to earn the Eagles’ hard-fought victory and the team’s ninth Power Five win in program history.

The sets were alternated between the two teams, as the Eagles won set-one and set-three while the Rebels won set-two and set-four. After falling behind 11-8 in the fifth set, FGCU responded by tying it up at 11 all and continued their rally all the way to a 15-12 set-five victory to win the match, 3-2.

Going into the last match of the invitational with momentum after beating Ole Miss the night before, FGCU faced St. John’s and started off the match hot. The Eagles quickly went up 2-0 in the match with set victories of 25-21 and 25-17 respectively, looking to sweep the Red Storm to finish off the weekend homestand with back-to-back wins.

Instead, St. John’s had other plans. The Red Storm were able to come back from being down to their last set by securing set-three and set-four victories over the Eagles, 25-20 and 25-21, to knot the match up at 2 all heading into the deciding fifth set. FGCU unfortunately was unable to respond to the newfound momentum that St. John’s gained, as the Red Storm finished off the Eagles 15-11 to secure a set-five victory and a 3-2 match win to complete their comeback.

Senior Juliana Lentz was recognized for her great performance over the three matches, being named to the FGCU Homewood Suites Invitational All-Tournament Team. The Eagles finished third in the invitational at 1-2. Arizona State won the invitational, going 3-0 while St. John’s and Ole Miss finished 2-1 and 0-3 respectively, good for second and fourth place. 

Going 1-2 to start the season at home, the Eagles were able to respond to a rough opening match by going all the way to the fifth set in both of their remaining two matches, showing a lot of promise to open the year with things to look forward to as the season goes on. FGCU returns to play on Friday, September 1, against Mercer and USF.

Juliana Lentz (13) during the home opener match against ASU Friday August 25, 2023. The Eagles fell 3-0 to the Sun Devils.

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About the Contributors
James Curtis
James Curtis, Eagle News Sports Editor
James Curtis is a senior majoring in journalism and minoring in global studies. He is from Tampa, FL, and has known he wanted to be a journalist since taking a journalism class in seventh grade. He has been involved in sports for his whole life, including swimming competitively all the way through high school. His goal now is to be a sports journalist. When not covering sports games or writing stories, he's usually spending his free time with his friends or watching YouTube.
Jessica Piland
Jessica Piland, Eagle News Photo Editor
Jessica Piland is a senior majoring in political science and minoring in global studies. She found her passion for photography during her senior year of high school after shooting some film for fun with her grandfather’s camera from the 80s. In addition to her work as photo editor for Eagle News, she works as a staff photographer for FGCU Athletics and is a photography intern with the University Marketing and Communications department. As she enters her third year as photo editor, she is excited for the fun stories, campus events, and breaking news that Eagle News will be covering!

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