FT. MYERS, Fla. (Sept. 28, 2012) – Jill Hopper recorded a team-high 13 kills, while Gigi Meyer and Courtney Greenberg each added 20 assists, as Florida Gulf Coast swept ETSU 3-0 (19-25, 23-25, 25-27) on Friday night inside Alico Arena.
Junior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) led all players with 15 kills, but it were the unforced errors which couldn’t propel the Blue and Gold to their second straight Atlantic Sun victory. The Bucs – who led in two of the three sets – finished with 29 total unforced errors in the match.
With the loss, ETSU dropped to 10-7, 1-2 in A-Sun play, while the Eagles won their fourth straight match to improve to 8-7, 4-0.
“We have the skill, desire, and competiveness to go out and win each time we step out on the floor, but at times the team is missing confidence in key moments of the match,” said head coach Lindsey Devine. “When we are on the road, it seems like we don’t return pressure on the opposition like we do at home. Tonight we made too many unforced errors, which let FGCU gain momentum, and it’s hard to regain control when we commit too many errors. In the end, we hope to salvage a split this weekend and come home 2-2 in conference play.”
The Bucs hung around early in the first set as ETSU pulled within one, 10-9, after Hopper committed a service error, but FGCU won five of the next six points to take a 15-10 lead forcing the Blue and Gold to call a timeout. The closest ETSU got after the stoppage of play was three points on five different occasions; however, after one of Devine’s six kills in the set made it a 22-19 game, the Eagles closed things out with three consecutive points to take the opener, 25-19. As a team, the Bucs hit .321 for the set, while Devine and Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) combined for 10 of ETSU’s 12 kills. Rice had four kills on seven swings, while Devine had six on 13 attempts.
In the second set, ETSU won the first three points and four of the first five to hold a 4-1 advantage. Unfortunately, FGCU quickly pulled even at four and play remained tight until the Bucs suffered a stretch where they were charged with four unforced errors and the Eagles opened a four-point lead, 16-12. The Bucs responded from the miscues by winning seven of the next 10 points to tie up the set at 19, as Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.), Kayla Williams (El Paso, Texas), Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.) and Devine all recorded a kill during the run. Once again, the Blue and Gold just couldn’t get over the hump as Kaitlin Holm ended the Buccaneer spurt with a kill, while Christine Pinder’s block put the Eagles up two, 21-19. ETSU had one last fight in them as they knotted things at 23 when Devine and Hardy combined for a block, but FGCU received a kill by Hopper and a service ace from Meyer to close out the set, 25-23. After recording five service errors in the opener, the Bucs responded with three aces and no errors in the second set. On the other hand, ETSU only hit .147 (12-7-34) and had four less kills than FGCU.
Despite having 15 ties and six lead changes in the third, ETSU still couldn’t pull off a win late in the frame as the Eagles rallied for 27-25 victory. The Bucs – who had 18 kills in the set – were led by Devine and Rice as they both tallied six each. Neither team held a lead larger than three in the stanza, but with ETSU up one (14-13), FGCU strung together a 4-0 run to recapture a 17-14 advantage forcing the Blue and Gold to call a timeout. The Bucs answered with three straight points to pull even at 17, while both teams traded points until ETSU was able to gain a 21-20 lead, thanks to a block assist by Wiley and Williams. The see-saw affair continued when the Eagles won the next point out of the timeout, but the Bucs looked to have found a spark as Devine’s kill and Williams’ service ace gave the Blue and Gold a two-point cushion, 23-21. Karina Mambuca ended the spurt with a block, but Devine came back with her sixth kill of set – giving ETSU the opportunity to serve for set point. However, Devine was charged with a service error – and after a timeout by the Bucs – Mambuca tied it at 24 when she registered her second ace of the match. The Blue and Gold went ahead one last time on Rice’s kill, but again the Eagles found a way to close out the match on a run to pull off the sweep.
Rice added 12 kills, while Wiley finished with a .600 attack percentage (6-0-10) and Williams posted 31 of ETSU’s 39 assists.
The Bucs look to respond on Saturday when ETSU faces Stetson at 3 p.m. inside the Edmunds Center.
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