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Despite Under .500 Record, Beach Volleyball has a Shot at Redemption in ASUN Beach Volleyball Championship

Jessica Piland/FGCU Athletics

Beginning its season in February, the FGCU beach volleyball team wrapped up the regular season with a record of 14-18. Even though the Eagles finished with an under .500 winning percentage, there were plenty of highlights throughout the season with a chance at more success in the 2024 ASUN Beach Volleyball Championship tournament.

The Eagles opened up the season on Feb. 23 and 24 with three consecutive wins over Southern Mississippi, Mercer and Eckerd in DeLand before dropping their first match of the season to conference rival and No.16 Stetson 4-1.

In Jacksonville for the following tournament on March 1 and 2, FGCU went 3-1 again with wins over Jacksonville and Mercer while splitting two matches with North Florida. During the win against Jacksonville, senior Kacie Johnson broke the all-time win record for the Eagles in her 70th win.

However, one thing that began to become a problem for the Eagles were the number of ranked opponents the team faced over the course of the season. FGCU played 17 matches against ranked opponents. 

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These teams included Stetson three different times as aforementioned as well as Florida Atlantic three times. The Eagles played Florida State, TCU and FIU twice, while facing off against Tampa, Arizona State, Washington, Georgia State and LSU once apiece.

Throughout the season, FGCU was able to fight and earn some upset wins. The Eagles upset the No. 20 Tampa Spartans 3-2 on March 9. A trip to Fort Worth a few weeks later ended on a positive note as the Eagles knocked off the No. 13 FIU Panthers 3-2 on March 23. In the next match on a trip to Atlanta, the Eagles nabbed their final upset win of the regular season on April 5 by defeating the No. 15 Georgia State Panthers 3-2.

Another highlight for FGCU this season were the three times that the Eagles had pairs that were awarded the ASUN Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week award. On March 13 and 27, sophomore Nicole De Oliveira and junior Kaitlyn Luebbers were named the Pair of the Week. Then on April 10, graduate student Shelby Beisner and senior Trinity Rosales received the award.

Johnson, Beisner, Rosales and Manaia Rewi were honored on Senior Day on March 20 for their time at FGCU when the Eagles faced off against Palm Beach Atlantic and No. 16 FAU, splitting those matches.

Next up for FGCU is the 2024 ASUN Beach Volleyball Championship tournament in DeLand from April 24 through April 27. The seeding of the tournament is not yet finalized as the last ASUN team will finish its regular season on April 20.

The bracket format for the conference tournament is unique. All eight schools that play in the ASUN Conference for beach volleyball make the tournament. FGCU will be joined by Austin Peay, Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville, North Alabama, North Florida and Stetson.

After the first round is played, the four losers in those matches will be put into a loser’s bracket. Once a team loses in that bracket, they are eliminated from the tournament. The losers on the winner’s bracket side get a chance at redemption in the tournament in that case. In the end, the final match will be between the winner of the winner’s side of the bracket against the winner of the loser’s side of the bracket to determine the 2024 ASUN beach volleyball champions.

For the Eagles, they will be looking to earn a shot at redemption. In matches against ASUN schools, FGCU went 2-4. But the Eagles only played three other conference members during the season.

FGCU has never won the ASUN Beach Volleyball Championship, coming up short in the championship final four times to Stetson. That includes the last two seasons against the Hatters, who are the defending champions. The Eagles will look to make history in DeLand in a few weeks.

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About the Contributor
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.

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