Front page photo Courtesy of ASunPhotos.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. (Nov. 18, 2010) - ETSU out-blocked North Florida 15-0 on the night to help the Bucs earn a convincing 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-18) sweep over the Ospreys on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Sun Volleyball Championship at Alico Arena.
With the victory, the No. 3 seeded Bucs advance to take on No. 2 seeded Kennesaw State at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. ETSU has reached 25 wins for the first time since 2006 and equals the school record for wins in a season since rally scoring was implemented in 2002. Fans can follow all the action online for free at ASun.TV for tomorrow's match and throughout the tournament.
"We came out tonight and really executed our game plan," said ETSU head coach Lindsey Devine. "We are continuing to take it one match at a time, but we are one step closer to the goal we set forth at the beginning of the year, to win the conference championship."
In addition to out-blocking the Ospreys, ETSU significantly out-hit North Florida .295 to .063. The Bucs have now swept the Ospreys in both matches this season. ETSU earned the 3-0 victory over UNF back on October 16 in Jacksonville.
First-Team All-Atlantic Sun performer Alysa Long (Romulus, Mich.) paced the Bucs with eight kills on .438 hitting, while also leading the way defensively with six blocks on the night. Erin Ryan (Davie, Fla.) and A-Sun Freshman of the Year Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) each recorded seven kills, while combining for 18 digs and six blocks.
Second-Team All-Atlantic Sun honoree Whitney Cogburn (Kingsport, Tenn.) had one of her most efficient matches of the season as she dished out 27 assists, while adding six kills on eight attempts for a .750 attack percentage. Cogburn also recorded five digs and five blocks from her setter position. Kiley Tamblyn (Torrance, Calif.) tied Devine for the team lead in digs with 11 on the night.
ETSU got off to a slow start to open the match as they trailed the 13-5 in the first frame. However, the Bucs quickly closed the gap after reeling off five straight points to cut the lead to 13-10. UNF maintained a two point advantage when they led 22-20, but the Bucs went on another 5-0 run to take the lead and eventually win the set 25-22. Long recorded two kills during the set ending run.
The second set started off much differently as the Bucs jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. ETSU built an eight point lead and never trailed during the set to take the 25-17 victory. Ryan led the way for the Bucs in the set with four kills.
After the Bucs earned victories in the first two sets, the third frame started very similar to the second. ETSU jumped out to an early lead and again never trailed in the set as they closed out the set and match with a 25-18 victory in the final frame.
The Ospreys were led by sophomore all-conference performer Paige Pridgeon with 11 kills and 10 digs. Britt Claessens added a game-high 35 assists, while Nicole Baran finished with a game-high 12 digs for the Ospreys.
In the other quarterfinal match of the day the No. 4 seed Belmont defeated fifth seeded Mercer, 3-1. Belmont will take on top-seeded Lipscomb in the first semifinal match tomorrow at 5 p.m. ETSU and Kennesaw State will follow at 7:30 p.m. inside Alico Arena on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast.
Kennesaw State defeated ETSU 3-1 just two weeks ago in Kennesaw, Ga. After the Bucs won the opening set KSU took the next three to pick up the victory and eventually earn the No. 2 seed for the tournament. ETSU committed 30 attack errors and 13 service errors in that match. Meanwhile, the duo of Sabrita Gulley and Grace Hoyt combined for 25 kills to lead the Owls.
"I think the team is more relaxed now than when we played them earlier in the season," said Devine. "Kennesaw State is very well coached and they have a good team, but at this point in the season we really have to be at our best."
For more information on the ETSU volleyball team please go to ETSUBucs.com and click on the volleyball link. Also, be sure to follow ETSU Athletics on Facebook and Twitter.