The Stetson volleyball team was unable to capitalize on three match point opportunities allowing Florida Atlantic to escape with a 3-2 victory (22-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-22, 17-15) Friday evening at the Stetson Clarion Classic. Earlier in the day Central Arkansas (5-0) remained undefeated on the season with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-14, 25-18) victory over the Hatters (1-5).
In the nightcap, a raucous Edmunds Center crowd of 375 saw the Hatters rally from a 2-1 match deficit and a 6-3 disadvantage in the fifth set. Junior Kaley Melville went on a tear, netting four of her career-high 19 kills, and redshirt freshman Morgan Pautsch added back-to-back kills to give Stetson an 11-8 lead.
FAU (1-1) cut that lead to 13-12 when Ellen Hawks and Catherine Coston assisted on a block to give Stetson two match points. The Owls were able to fight back to tie the score 14-14, but a kill from Coston put Stetson ahead once again 15-14. FAU battled back once last time and eventually pulled out the 17-15 victory.
"We had many opportunities to win the fifth set," Stetson head coach Tim Loesch said. "We have a young team that has got to figure out how to win, how to execute basic fundamentals in pressure situations, and we didn't do it today. But give FAU a lot of credit, they executed when we didn't and they earned the win."
Melville added 16 digs to her career-high 19 kills to pick up her fourth double-double of the season. Coston, making her Hatter debut Friday, finished with 13 kills and five blocks. Kelli Carneal (25 assists) and Kayla Weller (21 assists) both went over the 20 assist mark, Monique Russell collected 16 digs and three aces, Taylor Story picked up 11 digs, and Ellen Hawks put down five blocks.
"Mel and Catherine were our big leaders offensively, and Monique was our steadiest player in both matches today," Loesch said. "Overall we did some good things, we came out strong and I liked the way we came back in the fourth set."
The Hatters won the opening set for the fourth time this season, but they have yet to follow that up with a win in set two.
"Hopefully we can find a solution to that tomorrow," Loesch said.
In the Central Arkansas match, Coston led the Hatters with seven kills, while Melville and Russell each picked up 11 digs.
In other matches on Friday, Central Arkansas defeated Hampton 3-0, Wofford defeated both Florida Atlantic and Hampton by 3-1 scores.
The tournament concludes Saturday as Stetson will face Wofford at 1 p.m. and Hampton at 5 p.m.