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Eagles Shine in FGCU Classic with Two Sweeps and Tight Defeat to Maryland Before ASUN Play

Jessica Piland
Alexandra Zakutney (5) serves to Maryland during Saturday nights’s game. Zakutney made the All-Tournament Team for the weekend.

Finishing up non-conference play by hosting the Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Classic over the weekend, Florida Gulf Coast University volleyball went out strong with sweeps over FAU and Le Moyne, 3-0, and falling in the maximum five sets to Maryland, 2-3.

Before returning to Alico Arena after starting the season hosting the FGCU Homewood Suites Invitational, the Eagles went on a long road trip. During the road trip that included stops in Tampa, Austin and Houston, FGCU defeated Mercer, USF, Idaho State and Houston Christian while losing to the #7 team in the country, Texas, as well as Rice.

With a 5-4 record coming into the FGCU Classic, the Eagles were looking for a strong performance in their final matches before heading into ASUN Conference play. That’s exactly what they got in a stellar fashion.

To start the FGCU Classic, the Eagles welcomed the Owls of FAU. FGCU promptly put away FAU with a 3-0 sweep. It’s the Eagles’ fifth consecutive win in the series between the two schools starting back in 2018. All five of those wins have been sweeps.

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The first set was close, as FGCU held the narrowest of leads at 19-18, but the Eagles were able to push through to a 25-20 set-one win. The second set wasn’t nearly as close with the Eagles cruising to a 25-16 set-two win.

In the third set against FAU, the set stayed tight between the two teams as it was all knotted up at 19 apiece and it looked like the match could be pushed to a fourth set. But FGCU was able to take care of business with a 25-21 set-three win, clinching the 3-0 sweep over the Owls.

The following day, the Eagles had two matches to take care of: Le Moyne in the morning and Maryland that night.

Like against the Owls, the Eagles were able to sweep the Dolphins of Le Moyne, 3-0 that morning. The first set started off close once again, as Le Moyne held a 7-3 lead over FGCU. The Dolphins’ hot start was cooled off by the Eagles rather quickly from there. Tied at 9-9 in that same opening set, FGCU only allowed one more point to Le Moyne the rest of the way, cruising to a 25-10 set-one victory.

Set-two wasn’t any different for the Eagles, as they were able to soar to another 25-10 victory, replicating the previous set. The Dolphins wouldn’t go away easily in the third set. Le Moyne was able to push FGCU throughout the set, as the Eagles were only up one point, 21-20. 

Similarly to how FGCU sealed the sweep over FAU, the Eagles pulled away at the end to come away with a 25-21 set-three victory and a 3-0 sweep over Le Moyne for the match win.

The highly anticipated match of the weekend for the tournament was later in the evening as FGCU faced off against Maryland. It lived up to the hype, even with the Eagles falling in a tight battle.

Both teams came into the match undefeated in the FGCU Classic and both looked the part. The Terrapins, however, got out to the quicker start with wins in both set-one and set-two, 25-20 and 25-16 respectively. The Eagles had their backs against the wall and responded, rallying off two consecutive set wins in set-three, 25-15 and set-four, 25-17.

Fans in Alico Arena were excited and locked into the match’s deciding fifth set. It was intense all the way through but unfortunately, Maryland prevailed as FGCU fell in set-five 15-12 and dropped the final match 2-3.

Fifth-year outside hitter Alexandra Zakutney was named to the Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Classic’s All-Tournament Team as a standout for the Eagles across the three matches. Zakutney recorded her season highs in both kills, 13, and points, 15.5, against Maryland.

The FGCU volleyball team starts ASUN Conference play on Friday night against Jacksonville at home as well as hosting North Florida on Saturday night. The Eagles are 7-5 going into conference play and will look to start out well while hoping to repeat last season’s success and bring home another ASUN Tournament Championship.

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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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