29 Aug Volleyball Takes Homewood Suites FGCU Invitational Title with Sweep of USF
FORT MYERS, Fla. – A dominating performance on Saturday night at Alico Arena gave the FGCU volleyball team (3-0) a 25-8, 25-12, 25-22 win over South Florida (1-2) and the team title for the Homewood Suites FGCU Invitational. The Eagles sweep over the Bulls marked the third three-set win to open the season marking just the third time in program history (2015, 2017) to begin a campaign in such fashion.
Senior Chelsey Lockey (Eaton, Colo./Eaton HS) earned tournament MVP honors, while junior Erin Shomaker (Granville, Ohio/Granville HS) also earned a spot on the all-tournament team. Joining Lockey and Shomaker on the all-tournament team were C.C. Clausen of USF, Madyson Chitty of Rutgers, and Loren Teter of UMBC.
Earlier in the day, USF defeated UMBC 3-2 in the morning match, while Rutgers rallied back from down two sets to defeat UMBC 3-2 in the afternoon match.
Overall, the 3-0 start for the Eagles marks the sixth time in program history to do so (2004, 2005, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021). In the series against the Bulls, tonight’s win was the fifth consecutive for FGCU in the series, while the eight points allowed in the opening set were the fewest given up in any match between the clubs.
“I thought the first two sets we played outstanding defense – to keep a team to single-digit kills like that was a nice way to control things early,” said head coach Matt Botsford. “The third set got away from us a bit, but I was proud of how poised the team was in the end game. They had poise throughout and responded well when it could have easily gone the other way.”
In Saturday’s win, Shomaker led the Eagles with 12 kills for the third consecutive match including her third-straight match-clinching kill. Graduate Cortney VanLiew (Seymour, Ind./Columbus East HS) and freshman Skylar English (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) each had six kills, while Aja Jones (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) had five kills to go with four blocks. Senior Dana Axner (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman HS) notched 17 digs, while Lockey had 21 assists and four kills.
The Bulls were led by Marta Cvitkovic who had seven kills and Clausen who had 17 digs. Kelsey O’Loughlin recorded 11 assists to round out USF’s top performers.
FGCU finished the night hitting .271 highlighted by a .440 effort in the opening match. The Bulls were held to negative hitting percentages for the first two sets and finished the match with a .000 percentage despite hitting .281 in the third set. The Eagles held a 5-to-3 edge in service aces and an 8-to-5 advantage in blocks.
In the first set, an early five point run put FGCU up 7-2 and the Eagles never looked back. They closed the set by scoring eight of the final nine points for the 25-8 win.
After USF opened the second set with four straight points, FGCU ripped off 11 consecutive to take a commanding lead. The Eagles also had a six point and four point run in the set en route to the 25-12 win to go up 2-0.
The third set saw the Bulls begin to find their rhythm opening up a 7-2 lead early. The Eagles fought back to pull within one after a three-point outburst with a Juliana Lentz (Miami, Fla./St. Brendan HS) kill, a USF error and an ace by English cut the Bulls lead to 16-15. Kills by VanLiew, Shomaker, and Jones gave FGCU its first lead of the set, 21-20. The Bulls were able to tie things back up at 22 each before a pair of errors by USF set-up the match-winning kill from Shomaker.
The Eagles will return to action next weekend when they host the Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Classic on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are on sale by visiting www.FGCUTickets.com, calling 866-FGCU-TIX, or at the Alico Arena Ticket Office throughout the week. The Green and Blue will take on Florida International on Friday at 7 PM and Florida A&M (11 AM) and USC Upstate (7 PM) on Saturday.
For complete coverage of the volleyball program, follow the Eagles on Twitter at @FGCU_VB, on Instagram at @FGCU_VB, on Facebook at /FGCUVolleyball and online at FGCUathletics.com. You can also sign-up to have news on FGCU volleyball or other programs delivered directly to your inbox by visiting www.fgcuathletics.com/email.
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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 160-53 (.748) 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.
FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics’ charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.
FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 85 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 13+ 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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