Boca Raton, Fla. -- Stetson opened the 2014 season with bang Friday, posting a 3-2 victory over McNeese State and a 3-0 win over Bethune-Cookman at the FAU Invitational in Boca Raton, Fla.
The Hatters are off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 1996.
Kristina Hernandez made her Stetson indoor coaching debut on Friday and was pleased with her team's performance.
"We had some really good moments and some lows, which are expected I think on the first day," Hernandez said. "Overall, we saw a lot of really good things from a lot of people today, which is encouraging."
Against McNeese State, Stetson trailed 2-1 after three sets but won the fourth set 25-22 to force a decisive fifth game. Both teams traded points early in the final frame but a quick 2-0 run at the changeover gave the Hatters a lead they would not relinquish. With a 14-12 advantage late, Madison Akins put down a kill seal the victory.
"We just asked them to be more aggressive," Hernandez said about her team's comeback. "We saw them being a little bit tentative and trying to control their swings a little bit more and control the serves. We really have just been asking them to be aggressive every play. They got very comfortable in doing that the last two sets and those were our highest two hitting numbers. Being aggressive, taking risks offensively and spreading the offense is going to be a big key to our success this season."
Akins finished with a career-high 16 kills, with 11 of those coming in the final two sets. She had six kills on 11 attempts in the fourth set and five kills on 10 attempts in the fifth set.
"Maddie had a great first game against McNeese," Hernandez said. "She was extremely strong in scoring out of the front row and the back row, and she took on her role as a leader.
Cailyn Prewitt (12 kills), Erika White (11), and McKenna Foster (10) also posted double-figure kill totals.
"Cailyn did really well for us on the outside. Erika was connecting with the setters and was really efficient on the slides. She also had a great blocking day for us."
Kayla Weller recorded a double-double with 48 assists and 11 digs. Alexa Drost picked up 16 digs while Michelle Kastner added 10 digs.
White led a strong game at the net with a career-high eight block assists. Prewitt assisted on five blocks while Shelby Connors, Akins, and Weller collected three blocks apiece. As a team, the Hatters recorded 13 total blocks.
"We saw a lot of good things on the blocking end that we haven't necessary seen during practice that we were really happy with today," Hernandez said.
Stetson outhit McNeese State (0-1) .175 to .133.
The Hatters hit a slightly higher .202 against Bethune-Cookman (0-2) en route to the 25-20, 25-19, 25-22 win. Prewitt led the offense with 10 kills, while Foster tallied seven kills and Akins added six. Weller recorded 24 assists and Kastner picked up nine digs.
Stetson will play host Florida Atlantic for the tournament championship at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Game Notes: Stetson hit .400 over the final two sets vs. McNeese (25-5-50) ... Kayla Weller recorded her 10th career double-double ... Erika White's eight blocks was one shy of tying the school record (rally scoring era) ... Stetson recorded 13 or more blocks only once last season (15 vs. USC Upstate, Nov. 1) ... Stetson staved off one set point in game two ... McNeese survived four set points in the first set and five set points in the second set ... Redshirt freshman McKenna Foster had 10 kills and nine digs in her Stetson debut (vs. McNeese) ... Shelby Connors, Alexis Villa, and Abby Boll also made their Hatter debuts on Friday.