Winter Haven, Fla. - The Stetson sand volleyball team completed its inaugural competition late Friday at the Aspire Higher Volleyball SuperCenter's Clash of the Collegians. The Hatters split two dual matches Thursday against the College of Charleston and Florida State, then competed in flighted brackets on Friday based on Thursday's results.
THURSDAY - STETSON 3, COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON 2//FLORIDA STATE 5, STETSON 0
The Hatters began the life of their program in victorious fashion, defeating College of Charleston 3-2. Wins were achieved by the pairs on Courts 1, 2 and 4 - Maren Rygh & Alexa Stonish, Julie Bassett & Kaley Melville and Taylor Kennedy & Stephanie Marin, respectively. Bassett posted 14 kills and 14 digs with her teammate Melville adding 12 kills and 14 digs; Rygh knocked down 13 kills while Stonish adding 10 kills and five aces.
#1 seeds - Maren Rygh & Alexa Stonish (STET) def. Chubb/Theesfeld (C of C) 21-15, 21-11
#2 seeds - Julie Bassett & Kaley Melville (STET) def. Kolich/Shelton (C of C) 21-18, 21-8.
#3 seeds - Koehler/Zbojniewicz (C of C) def. Katie DiGirolamo & Alisha Hoffman (STET) 18-21, 23-21, 15-10
#4 seeds - Taylor Kennedy & Stephanie Marin (STET) def. McKown/Neidifer (C of C) 19-21, 22-20, 15-11
#5 seeds - Davis/Warren (C of C) def. Savannah Byl & Kaylee Ream (STET) 16-21, 21-18, 15-12
"I'm proud of our team for playing hard in our first ever sand dual and defeating a strong College of Charleston squad," Head Coach Tim Loesch said. "The girls did a good job of adapting to a new ball and different playing conditions than those to which we were accustomed. It was great to see the players fighting for every point and sustaining the maximum effort for the entire match."
In the second match of the day, the Hatters fell 5-0 to Florida State. The Byl and Ream duo at #5 was the lone Stetson pair to win a set and nearly pulled off a big comeback win, falling 21-19, 20-22, 19-17. Several other second sets were close against a Seminoles squad made up of several players from their 2011 indoor volleyball NCAA Final Four qualifiers.
#1 seeds - Pardon/Stepanova (FSU) def. Rygh/Stonish (STET) 21-5, 21-16
#2 seeds - Newgard/Tiegs (FSU) def. Bassett/Melville (STET) 21-10, 24-22
#3 seeds - Djurdjevic/Pavels (FSU) def. DiGirolamo/Hoffman (STET) 21-7, 21-16
#4 seeds - McGregor/Wickstrom (FSU) def. Kennedy/Marin (STET) 21-8, 21-10
#5 seeds - Blackman/Hayworth (FSU) def. Byl/Ream (STET) 21-19, 20-22, 19-17
Coach Loesch reported, "FSU has a tall and athletic squad, which seemed to intimidate some of our players at the start of the match. Once we made some adjustments, our team was able to compete a little better in the second set. We will learn from this match and improve; we play FSU twice more this season and the strong competition will only help us get better."
FRIDAY - BRACKET PLAY
Pairs from each of the three competing schools were seeded into bracket play using the dual match results, in which Florida State went 2-0, Stetson 1-1 and College of Charleston 0-2. Double elimination play allowed different teams to face each other, including a first round intra-Stetson matchup.
Winners Bracket Round 1
Rygh/Stonish (STET) def. Byl/Ream (STET) 21-15, 21-18
Bassett/Melville (STET) def. McKown/Neidifer (C of C) 21-12, 21-11
Koehler/Zbainowicz (C of C) def. DiGirolamo/Hoffman (STET) 17-21, 22-20, 15-12
Kolich/Shelton (C of C) def. Kennedy/Marin (STET) 21-11, 21-16
Losers Bracket Round 1
DiGirolamo/Hoffman (STET) def. Saxton/Yilkidim (FSU) 28-18
Kennedy/Marin (STET) def. Neideffer/White (C of C) 29-27
Kiley/Pellitteri (FSU) def. Byl/Ream (STET) 28-17
Winners Bracket Round 2
Pavels/Pjurdijeric (FSU) def. Rygh/Stonish (STET) 21-9, 21-11
Nawgard/Tiegs (FSU) def. Bassett/Melville (STET) 21-15, 21-19
Losers Bracket Round 2
McGregor/Wickstrom (FSU) def. Rygh/Stonish (STET) 28-16
Kiley/Pellitteri (FSU) def. Bassett/Melville (STET) 28-19
DiGirolamo/Hoffman (STET) def. Kolich/Shelton (C of C) 28-20
Koehler/Zbainowicz (C of C) def. Kennedy/Marin (STET) 28-22
Losers Bracket Round 3
McGregor/Wickstrom (FSU) def. DiGirolamo/Hoffman (STET) 28-16
"Bracket play allowed our players to compete against a variety of different pairings and see different styles of play," Loesch said. "We have identified some specific things we need to work on before our next match. Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes and become stronger as a result of this experience."
The first home matches in Stetson sand volleyball history are set for 3:00 pm Wednesday, March 14 as the Hatters host Tulane for a doubleheader. Admission to the Stetson Sand Volleyball Complex (located on the quad between Minnesota and Arizona Avenues, adjacent to Smith Hall) is free. Fans should bring chairs and/or towels for seating.
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