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Multiple Beach Volleyball Players Honored by ASUN Despite Down Year

Jessica Piland/FGCU Athletics

The FGCU beach volleyball team finished the 2024 season with its first losing record since 2015, but multiple Eagles were awarded for their efforts during the regular season and the ASUN Conference Championship tournament.

After the Eagles finished its regular season on April 14, several players were recognized by the conference for regular season awards. 

Junior Kaitlyn Luebbers was named to the Academic All-ASUN Team and First Team All-ASUN. Sophomore Nicole De Oliveira joined her on the First Team All-ASUN. Senior Kacie Johnson and freshman Emma Soncrant were named to the Second Team All-ASUN. In addition to being named to the Freshman Team All-ASUN, Soncrant was honored as the ASUN Freshman of the Year. 

Finishing up the regular season honors, graduate student Shelby Beisner and senior Trinity Rosales were named Second Team All-ASUN for the third consecutive year. The duo was also awarded the ASUN Pair of the Year.

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The Eagles entered the double-elimination tournament as the third seed and faced off against the sixth-seed Jacksonville Dolphins in the first round on April 24. After previously beating the Dolphins 4-1 back on March 1, the Eagles won with ease again with a 5-0 shutout. 

The next morning, FGCU faced a familiar opponent, the No. 16 Stetson Hatters, who were the second seed. This was the fourth meeting this season after three previous matches during the regular season. Stetson won all the previous matches.

Beisner and Rosales were able to give the Eagles the first point, winning both of their doubles sets 21-18 and 21-17. Luebbers and De Oliveira also won their matches in a third set as they dropped the first set 21-19 before bouncing back to win 21-10 and 15-13. However, the rest of the Eagles were unable to win their matches as FGCU lost 3-2, sending them into the losers bracket.

On April 26, the Eagles played two matches against the eighth seed, Austin Peay, and the fourth seed, North Alabama. FGCU swept both of those matches 3-0, with most of the doubles sets in each match only needing two sets to determine a winner.

This set up a rematch against Stetson on April 27 in the ASUN semifinal, with the winner advancing to the championship match against the number one seed, North Florida. Juniors Jaci Carpenter and Mia Thompson started the match strong as they won their sets 23-21 and 21-17 to give the Eagles the first point. Luebbers and De Oliveira faced a similar scenario to the recent matchup against the Hatters as they lost the first set 21-17 but came back to win the final two sets 21-18 and 15-8. 

Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Hatters were just an extra step ahead of them. They competed tough but were unable to pull out a win. Johnson and Soncrant were in a tight duel. They dropped the first set 21-19 but responded by winning the next set 21-12. In the third and final set, the pair lost a close set 15-13, giving Stetson a 3-2 match win and eliminating FGCU.

The Eagles were unable to beat the Hatters all season, losing all five matchups. This includes two recent matches in the postseason tournament. Stetson went on to lose 3-0 to North Florida in the championship match.

The beach volleyball team finished the 2024 season with a 17-20 record. However, this can be attributed to the Eagles playing a much tougher schedule this season, with more ranked non-conference opponents and fewer matchups against other ASUN teams.

Last year, the Eagles played against 15 ranked opponents and 13 ASUN matches. This year, they played 17 ranked opponents and only five ASUN matches. The Eagles upset three of their ranked opponents and went 2-3 in regular-season conference play.

After the postseason tournament, Luebbers and De Oliveira were named to the ASUN All-Tournament Team for going undefeated in their matches.

With four seniors leaving, the Eagles will have to bid farewell to their top two all-time winners: Johnson, who has over 80 wins, and Rosales, who has over 70 wins.

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