The Stetson University volleyball team (13-7, 4-1 Atlantic Sun) had its undefeated conference mark and perfect home record blemished after a 3-0 setback to Florida Gulf Coast Friday night at the Edmunds Center.
The Eagles (6-10, 4-1) won by scores of 25-22, 25-23, 25-19 to hand the Hatters their first home loss in 10 matches this season.
"Florida Gulf Coast played well, they posted some challenges that we knew were coming but we were unable to make the right adjustments," Stetson head coach Tim Loesch said. "I think we had a shot to win every single game, we just couldn't do what we wanted to do on our side of the net. Some of that is due to Florida Gulf Coast playing well and putting some pressure on us. I felt like our serving and passing was not as sharp as it has been, and defensively we really struggled with our blocking and digging. Offensively, we did OK. We could have obviously done better in some areas."
Stetson posted big rallies in the first and third sets. Down 24-16 in the opening frame, the Hatters closed the gap to two, 24-22, before the Eagles notched one final kill. In the third set Stetson battled back from a 14-8 deficit to tie the game 17-17, but never threatened after that.
"I felt like we took some points off and did not fight as hard as we could," Loesch said. "At times, we fought really hard, but it was always to come back after we were down. We would catch up, and kind of ease off, thinking (the Eagles) were going to give us some points, and they didn't. They kept playing hard, and then we would have to try and come back again. That is hard to do against a good team."
Kaley Melville led the Hatters with 12 kills, while Madison Akins tallied nine kills and Tiffany Creamer added eight. Kayla Weller picked up 35 assists, while Michelle Kastner collected 11 digs. Ellen Hawks assisted on six blocks.
"I thought Mel Melville had another good game," Loesch said. "In both our losses (this week) she has continued to do her part. Erika White has also played well. I was really pleased with Maddie Akins. She stepped up and had a good match."
Kaitlin Holm led FGCU with 16 kills and a .609 attack percentage. Stetson and Florida Gulf Coast each had 38 kills for the match, but the Eagles hit .235 and the Hatters hit .162.
"Serving and receiving serve, those are two areas we need to clean up a bit," Loesch said. "If the first touch isn't good then the other team has an advantage, and (the Eagles) definitely utilized it."
After five straight A-Sun matches at home, the Hatters will hit the road next week and visit ETSU on Friday and USC Upstate on Saturday.