Stetson won at the no. 3, no. 4, and no. 5 positions to defeat Jacksonville 3-2 in the first round of the 2013 Atlantic Sun Conference Sand Volleyball Championships Saturday afternoon at the Dolphin Beach Volleyball Complex.
The Hatters (12-9) advance to play regular-season champion and top-seed UNF in the winner's bracket semifinal at 9 a.m. Sunday morning.
"I was really happy with the team's effort," Stetson head coach Tim Loesch said. "We had a lot of rain early in the match, and our no. 4 and no. 5 pairs did an excellent job of playing hard and not letting the weather affect them. They pulled off two good wins to start us off and really set the tone for everyone else."
Alisha Hoffman and Catherine Coston opened the match with a 2-0 win at the no. 4 seed, 21-11, 21-14 over Jacksonville's Thalya Paga and Kylie Jacob. At the no. 5 seed, Jordann Dierickx and Erika White also won in straight sets, 21-15, 21-12 over Emily Laskelle and Nicole Teplit, giving Stetson an early 2-0 lead.
The top three seeds took the courts next, and the no. 3 pair of Savannah Byl and Katie DiGirolamo clinched the match for Stetson, winning 22-20, 21-18 in a tight two-set match.
"The no. 1, 2, and 3 matches were all very close," Loesch said. "We lost a heartbreaker at no. 2, but our no. 3 team pulled out a big win. Overall it was a well-contested match, JU played well, and fortunately we were able to play just a little bit better."
Kaley Melville and Maren Rygh fell 2-0 at the no. 1 seed, and Julie Bassett and Claudia Kalin came up just a few points short in a three-set match at the no. 2 position.
The win was the Hatters' third victory over Jacksonville in four meetings this season, but the first since Stetson shuffled its line-up two weeks ago.
"The new pairings are still improving and getting closer to their full potential," Loesch said. "They continue to work on their communication and how to best utilize their various skills together. I think we moved forward today."
Stetson 3, Jacksonville 2
#1: Taylor Nyquist/Sammie Strausbaugh (JU) def. Kaley Melville/Maren Rygh (STET) 21-12, 21-17
#2: Kendall Courtney/Niatha Cullen (JU) def. Claudia Kalin/Julie Bassett (STET) 21-17, 12-21, 15-12
#3: Katie DiGirolamo/Savannah Byl (STET) def. Gabriela Roman/Alyssa Robertson (JU) 22-20, 21-18
#4: Catherine Coston/Alisha Hoffman (STET) def. Thayla Pagan/Kylie Jacob (JU) 21-11, 21-14
#5: Jordann Dierickx/Erika White (STET) def. Emily Laskelle/Nicole Teplitz (JU) 21-15, 21-12