23 Sep Volleyball Opens ASUN Play with Crossover Weekend at Lipscomb
FORT MYERS, Fla. – After closing out the non-conference slate with an 8-4 overall record, the FGCU volleyball team turns its sights on ASUN play as the Eagles travel to Lipscomb for a cross-over series weekend. The weekend against the North Division squads will begin with a 7 PM (6 PM CT) match-up against Lipscomb on ESPN+. On Saturday, FGCU will take on Bellarmine at 4 PM (3 PM CT) before closing out the weekend on Sunday against Eastern Kentucky at 1 PM (12 PM CT).
The Eagles are coming off a win against FAU as part of the Sunshine State Classic where Chelsey Lockey (Eaton, Colo./Eaton HS) and Erin Shomaker (Granville, Ohio/Granville HS) were each named to the All-Tournament Team. In the match against UCF to open last weekend’s play, Cortney VanLiew (Seymour, Ind./Columbus East HS) became the program’s all-time career kills leader to surpass fellow FGCU Hall of Famer Amanda Carroll.
VanLiew now has a program-best 1,490 career kills in 127 career matches – a total that ranks 17th among all active NCAA players. She is now on the verge of becoming the third player in program history to post both 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs. She enters the weekend with 979 career digs. Only Carroll and Brooke Youngquist Sweat have previously accomplished the feat.
Dana Axner (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman HS) is also closing in on second all-time at FGCU for career digs. The senior has 1,668 digs which ranks third all-time with just 20 more needed to pass Whitney Masters (1687, 2011-14) for second. Axner also ranks 17th among all active NCAA players for career digs.
Shomaker continues to lead the Eagles’ offense with 140 kills (3.78/set) this season after registering 41 last weekend. She also leads FGCU in service aces with 15 for the year. Juliana Lentz (Miami, Fla./St. Brendan HS) and Skylar English (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) round out the top three hitters for the Green and Blue with 90 and 71 kills, respectively. Lockey has a team high 390 assists, while Axner leads the squad with 200 digs. Aja Jones (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) leads the front line with 40 blocks with Lentz just one behind.
The match against Lipscomb will be a rematch of last season’s ASUN Championship game which the Bisons won in five sets. After Lipscomb took a 2-1 lead after winning the third set, the Eagles won the fourth before falling 16-14 in the finale. Shomaker had 27 kills while Jones had seven blocks in the loss.
That snapped a seven-match win streak for FGCU in the all-time series with Lipscomb. The Bisons hold a 17-12 advantage in the overall series which dates back to 2007. In Nashville, Lipscomb is 9-6 all-time.
The match against Bellarmine will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools. FGCU has a 1-0 record all-time against Eastern Kentucky with the Eagles posting a 3-0 victory over the Colonels in the 2018 Lobo Classic in Albuquerque, N.M.
Following the weekend’s play, FGCU will stay on the road next weekend as the Eagles head to Jacksonville on Friday and North Florida on Saturday.
ASUN Leaders (Top 10)
Kills/Set – Shomaker (1st, 3.78)
Hitting Percentage – Lentz (2nd, .386)
Assists/Set – Lockey (2nd, 10.26)
Aces – Shomaker (t5th, 15)
Digs/Set – Axner (1st, 5.26)
Blocks/Set – Jones (2nd, 1.08), Lentz (t4th, 1.03)
Points/Set – Shomaker (1st, 4.41)
Most Career Kills
|1.||1,490||Cortney VanLiew (.229)||2017-present|
|2.||1,483||Amanda Carroll (.259)||2015-19|
|3.||1,173||Brooke Youngquist Sweat (.245)||2004-07|
|4.||1,132||Olivia Mesner (.331)||2011-14|
|5.||961||Jessica Barnes (.194)||2010-14|
Most Career Digs
|1.||1,965||Whitney Hendry (390 sets)||2004-07|
|2.||1,687||Whitney Masters (483 sets)||2011-14|
|3.||1,668||Dana Axner (322 sets)||2018-present|
|4.||1,652||Holly Youngquist (418 sets)||2008-11|
|5.||1,369||Brook Youngquist Sweat (346 sets)||2004-07|
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Matt Botsford is in his eighth season as head coach of the FGCU women’s volleyball program in 2021 after being hired on Feb. 10, 2014. In his tenure, Botsford-led teams have compiled a 165-56 (.749) record overall, including an 81-19 (.810) record in ASUN play. Including this past year’s unprecedented spring season, he has taken the program to heights it has not seen in the Division-I era (2007-present) – registering at least 20 wins overall in five of the past six seasons and at least 10 wins in conference play every season. In 2018, he led the program to its first regular season championship since 2012 (fourth overall) and its first-ever ASUN tournament title, NCAA tournament appearance, NCAA tournament win and victory over a ranked team. His first two campaigns resulted in ASUN regular season runner-up finishes, and the following two saw the Eagles advance to the tournament championship and now the team has won three straight regular season titles, including a division title and ASUN tournament runner-up finish in the spring 2021 season. On Sept. 10, 2016, Botsford led his team to a five-set win over Indiana in Alico Arena, which signified the program’s first-ever win over a team from a Power-5 conference. In 2018, he led the team to a win over Miami (Fla.) – the program’s first-ever road Power 5 win, and the Eagles followed that up with a straight-set win over the Hurricanes at a neutral site in 2019.
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FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 85 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 14+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just nine seasons of D-I postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a combined 42 teams or individuals compete in NCAA championships. Eight FGCU programs have earned a top-25 national ranking in their respective sport – including women’s basketball (No. 21, 2020-21), beach volleyball (No. 20, 2021) and both men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s soccer (2018) as three of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Green and Blue posted a department-best sixth-place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top-100 showing nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and state of Florida best seven teams earn the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their Academic Progress Rate in their sport. FGCU also collectively earned a record 3.50 GPA in the classroom in the fall 2020 semester and has outperformed the general University undergraduate population for 24 consecutive semesters. The 2019 Fall, 2020 Spring, 2020 Fall, and 2021 Spring semesters each saw another milestone reached as all 15 programs achieved a 3.0-or-higher team GPA in each. The Eagles also served an all-time high 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.
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