In a rare midseason doubleheader, the Stetson volleyball team fell 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-18) to visiting Florida Gulf Coast in a conference match before defeating Savannah State 3-0 (25-10, 25-11, 25-10) in a non-conference affair Saturday afternoon at the Edmunds Center.
The victory was the first for the Hatters (4-20, 0-7 Atlantic Sun) since Sept. 7, snapping a 12-game skid.
Stetson hit a season-high .369 against the Tigers (0-21), including an errorless third set that resulted in a .538 attack percentage (14-0-26).
“I was proud of the team for bouncing back after a tough loss,” Stetson head coach Tim Loesch said. “I think we did a good job of playing consistent Hatter volleyball from beginning to end. We have been trying to play cleaner and taking care of our side of net. We were able to execute our gameplan better against Savannah State.”
Junior Kaley Melville combined for 25 kills, 11 digs, and four aces on the day. She hit .360 (12-3-25) in the Savannah State match. Freshman Cailyn Prewitt, meanwhile, combined for 15 kills of her own and hit .375 (8-2-16) against the Tigers.
“Kaley Melville had 13 kills and 12 kills for us, a bunch of aces, she passed well, played good defense, and provided good leadership, so I was really happy with that,” Loesch said. “Kelli Carneal did a good job of hitting, setting and performing her role. Cailyn Prewitt also had two good matches and has really solidified our opposite position.”
Defensively, junior Ellen Hawks had five blocks on the day to become Stetson’s career blocks leader during the rally scoring era (since 2001). She surpassed Laura Boyd who posted 246 blocks from 2006-09. Hawks now has 247.
Freshman Alexa Drost led all players with 12 digs in the FGCU match, and she added nine digs against Savannah State.
“I have been really proud of Alexa Drost,” Loesch said. “She has stepped up as a defensive player for us and picked up a bunch of digs today. She passed consistently for us and played great defense.”
Monique Russell served nine consecutive points to help stake Stetson to a 10-0 lead in the final frame against Savannah State. Overall, Russell served 27 points for the Hatters in the second match including a career-best five aces.
“Part of our gameplan for both teams was to serve tough,” Loesch said. “We did it in the first set against Gulf Coast and a little bit in the second, but we did it the whole match against Savannah State. Moe’s been struggling with that lately but she's been working hard on that in practice and I was glad to see her break through today. Even when she wasn’t getting aces she was making it tough on them and easy for our defense.”
Kayla Weller recorded 23 assists and nine digs against the Tigers.
In the Stetson-FGCU match, a tightly contested opening set featured 12 ties and six lead changes. A 10-2 run midway through the set put Stetson ahead 15-12, but FGCU answered back with three straight points to knot the score 15-15. The set remained tied at 16, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 before the Eagles grabbed the last two points to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
In the second set, the Hatters trailed 19-14 before a 5-1 spurt put Stetson behind by just a point at 20-19. Ellen Hawks collected a block solo that prompted FGCU to call a timeout, but the Eagles then finished on a 5-1 run of their own to take a 2-0 lead.
The Eagles (11-7, 7-0 A-Sun) hit .391 in the third set to cap the victory and stay undefeated in league play.
“I liked a lot of the things we did in the first two games, the girls played hard, but Florida Gulf Coast just won the last three or four points in each of them,” Loesch said. “Gulf Coast is a good team, they put some pressure on us, and did some things a little more consistently than we did. But I was disappointed that we let things unravel half way through the third set.”