Friday, September 16, 2011
University Park, Pa. – Despite dropping the second and third games, the Florida Gulf Coast University volleyball team scratched and clawed their way back to win their opening match of the Penn State Classic over Rutgers, 3-2 (25-19, 19-25, 21-25, 25-19,15-12) Friday night.
With the win the Eagles improve to 4-6 overall, while the Scarlet Knights drop to 6-8 on the season.
“This was a really tough match for us,” said head coach Dave Nichols. “It was hard fought all the way. This was a nice win for us, but definitely not an easy one. Kaitlin was huge for us down the stretch, Camil came off the bench and helped use re-gather, and Brittany Muse (Arcadia, Fla.DeSoto County HS) did the same. The best thing about this match was that we fought when we struggled to find a rhythm and that’s a big step. When you learn how to win a match when you’re not playing well that’s an important growth step for the team.”
After the Green and Blue shot out to a quick 8-0 lead, highlighted by a pair of Holly Youngquist (Estero, Fla./Evangelical Christian) service aces, Rutgers used a 15-10 run to climb within three points at 18-15. Leading the set 22-18, the Eagles got kills from Jelena Simic (Lazarevac, Serbia/Kolubara Technical/Seward County CC), Kaitlin Holm (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers HS/Marshall) and Brooke Kohler (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter HS/Clemson) to give FGCU the game one victory 25-19.
The Scarlet Knights responded by capturing the second and third sets 25-19 and 25-21 to take a commanding 2-1 lead in the match. Rutgers hit .250 in the second set and .216 in the third, while holding the Eagles to just .081 and .175, respectively.
The Eagles took an early 8-2 lead in game four, before the Scarlet Knights responded with a 12-7 run to cut the FGCU lead to 15-14. The Green and Blue, thanks to a pair of Jill Hopper (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown HS) kills and a Holm service ace, pulled ahead 21-15. FGCU would go on to hold off Rutgers to pick up the 25-19 win and force a decisive fifth set.
In the deciding game, the Eagles continued their solid play. A kill from Simic gave the Green and Blue a 7-5 lead, but the Scarlet Knights responded with a 5-2 run to grab a 10-9 lead and force head coach Dave Nichols to call a timeout. Coming out of the break FGCU got two kills from Holm, a pair of Rutgers attack errors and a block assist from Hopper and Kohler to give the Eagles match point at 14-11. A kill from Sheridan Taylor pulled the Scarlet Knights closer at 14-12, but Hopper blasted a kill to give FGCU the set (15-12) and the match (3-2).
Holm and Hopper each finished with 16 kills, while Simic picked up her first double-double of the season with 20 digs and 13 kills. Olivia Mesner (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River HS) chipped in with eight kills, while Whitney Masters (Muncie, Ind./Wapahani HS) recorded 12 digs. Camil Dominguez (Santo Domingo, D.R./Santa Teresita) and Gigi Meyer (Gainesville, Fla./Buchholz HS) ran the FGCU offense and finished with 28 and 21 assists, respectively. Youngquist registered a team-high 24 digs.