Last weekend, the FGCU volleyball team experienced both a win and loss while on the road to USC Upstate and East Tennessee State University, the first-place team in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
The girls celebrated their seventh consecutive win against USC Upstate, winning the match 3-2. They took the advantage right out of the gate Friday night, winning the first two sets, 25-23 and 25-21. The Spartans proved they weren’t afraid to attempt to take that possible eighth win in a row from the Eagles.
Both teams were just one point away from taking the lead, or tied for the entire game until outside hitter Christine Pinder had a kill with an assist from Gigi Meyer putting FGCU up by two, 13-11. The squad carried the momentum until the last set tie of the evening at 18-18. Putting another W onto the score book seemed to slip out of the talons of the Eagles. Kaitlin Holm scored the last point of the set with a kill, before the Spartans continued to rack up points until a final score of 20-25 flashed on the scoreboard. These last few plays may have been what Head Coach Dave Nichols was referring to when he was quoted by FGCU Athletics, “The team had a hard time getting into a rhythm tonight, but we never stopped fighting together and we stayed in it mentally. USC Upstate played incredible defense, which challenged us, but Whitney Masters had a huge effect on the game for us and helped us keep it together to get a really nice win.”
A similar game was played in the fourth set; the Spartans took their set win and ran with it. They defeated the green and blue again, 23-25. Nichols called a timeout once the Eagles were down by six points. They were down for the fight, but a kill from Holm and a few errors from the home team allowed the Eagles a 25-23 win.
Eight subs occurred in the fifth set, changing up the play a bit on the court for the Eagles. The girls did not lose the lead once after the first and only tie of the set, 1-1, and continued in the lead for a final score of 15-10, putting that seventh “W” on the books for the Eagles.
That winning streak was crumbled by ETSU the following night, however. Being on the road for the second night in a row, the Eagles took on the first-place team in the A-Sun in Johnson City, Tenn. The Eagles did not bring home a single set win for that match, but did have several small leads throughout.
“ETSU played really well and put a ton of pressure on us,” Nichols said of the loss. “They were very strong and really got us out of our game. It was one of those days where we were fighting but not playing clean volleyball, and we let points get away from us. We need to credit ETSU, they were prepared and they took away everything we were trying to do. It was a long, hard weekend; we wanted to come home with two wins, but considering the circumstances we are happy with a 1-1 trip.”
Last night, FGCU beat Florida International in five sets, 3-2.