Boca Raton, Fla. – Despite 18 kills by redshirt freshman McKenna Foster, Stetson (2-1) dropped its first match of the season, 3-1, to Florida Atlantic in the final game of the FAU Invitational on Saturday.
The Owls (2-1) won by scores of 25-21, 23-25, 25-21, 25-13 to take the tournament title by virtue of a tiebreaker. Stetson, FAU, and McNeese State all finished the tournament with identical 2-1 marks. The Hatters were recognized as the runner-up.
Junior Kayla Weller and Foster were selected to the all-tournament team.
"We played really tough the first three sets and we kind of just lost focus in the fourth set," Stetson head coach Kristina Hernandez said. "It was a little disappointing, but we played very physical for the first three sets. It was good to see. McKenna had a stellar game."
Stetson got off to a slow start in the first set and trailed 15-7 midway through the frame. Three kills from Foster highlighted an 8-0 run that gave the Hatters a 16-15 advantage. The teams traded points through a 19-19 tie, but FAU scored six of the final eight points to grab a 1-0 lead in the match.
In the second set, Stetson fought back from a 4-0 hole early to tie the game 7-7. The Owls quickly rebuilt a four-point advantage and still led 16-12 when Stetson scored five straight points to move ahead 17-16. Shelby Connors collected a kill and a block during that spurt. After FAU regained the lead, Foster answered with three consecutive kills to put Stetson back on top 21-20. Madison Akins took over late, notching kills on points 22, 24, and 25 to lift Stetson to a 25-23 win, evening the match at a game apiece.
The Hatters jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the third set and extended it to 17-11 past the midway point. The Owls battled back to even the set at 17, but a kill by Cailyn Prewitt and an FAU attack error put Stetson back on top by two. However, the Owls closed the set on an 8-2 run to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Stetson’s offense managed just five kills in the fourth set as FAU closed out the victory.
Foster finished with a season-high 18 kills and 11 digs for her first double-double of the season. Kayla Weller also registered a double-double of 41 assists and 10 digs.
Akins contributed 11 kills to help the offense and Connors added nine. Michelle Kastner and Alexa Drost each picked up 10 digs on defense while Erika White contributed on four of the team’s seven blocks.
The Hatters served eight aces, including four by Weller.
Stetson will compete against Charleston Southern, North Carolina A&T, and The Citadel next weekend at The Citadel Tournament in Charleston, S.C.