For the second time in less than 24 hours, the Stetson volleyball team triumphed in five sets, posting a 3-2 victory over visiting Jacksonville Saturday afternoon at the Edmunds Center.
The Hatters (10-5, 2-0 Atlantic Sun) took the deciding set 15-12 to win for the ninth time in their last 11 games and stay undefeated in conference play. The Dolphins (10-2, 1-1 A-Sun) suffered just their second loss of the season.
Stetson won the first two sets by identical 25-23 scores, but the Dolphins rallied with 25-14 and 25-21 victories in sets three and four to even the match 2-2.
In the decisive fifth set, the Hatters led 8-5 at the changeover, but after the Dolphins forced a tie at 12-12, Stetson head coach Tim Loesch called timeout.
"I had a couple of things to say to the girls, but it was the same old thing that I always tell them," Loesch said. "Maybe that helped a little bit. A couple of the players and captains stepped up and said things that are very meaningful to our girls - what we are all about and we want to play for each other and do our part."
With the Dolphins serving out of the timeout, Cailyn Prewitt took a pass from Kayla Weller and spiked down a tiebreaking kill that would give Stetson the lead for good.
"Mel just said she was going to call the ball as loud as she could to try to split the blockers for me," Prewitt said. "Kayla just gave me a perfect set and I went up and banged the ball."
Michelle Kastner then served for the Hatters, and Ellen Hawks slammed home an overpass right at the net to give Stetson a 14-12 lead.
Kastner's next serve dipped quickly and found the court for a game-winning ace.
"I knew right when (coach) Meghan gave me that serve I told myself I was going to get the winning ace right there for my team," Kastner said. "We came through and I was so proud of our team."
"I am really proud of the girls for bouncing back," Loesch said. "We got off to a good start and won a couple close games. JU was very determined and they fought back. They posed some challenges to us but our girls stuck together in adversity, and executed our gameplan under a lot of pressure, and I am just really proud of them."
Kaley Melville led the team with 17 kills, but it was her eighth and final dig of the match that put her at the 1000-dig mark for her career. She became just the fifth player in school history to record 1000 kills and 1000 digs in a career.
Tiffany Creamer tallied 14 kills and Prewitt added 10 to join in the offensive effort. Kayla Weller collected a double-double of 45 assists and 12 digs. Kastner and Julie Bassett also reached double-digit dig totals.
Ellen Hawks added eight kills and six blocks. Evann Dickerson and Weller each served two aces. The Hatters recorded 12 blocks as a team and hit .191 for the match.
"It was really a team effort, from the girls screaming on the sidelines, to our substitutes who came in and executed their roles, to our starters who had to do it for two hours-plus today, and were able to do it at the end of the game," Loesch said.
Stetson will visit Bethune-Cookman at 7 p.m. Tuesday night at Moore Gym in Daytona Beach.
Notes: The Hatters are 2-0 in the A-Sun for the first time since 2007 ... Stetson is off to its best start since 1996 ... Kaley Melville finished the weekend with 45 kills ... Stetson's other 1000-kill, 1000-dig performers are Cristy Hoffman (1985-88), Melissa Roy (1994-97), Kira Smedley (2001-04), and DeeAnn Dempsey (2002-05).