COLLEGE PARK, Maryland – FGCU Volleyball opened the 2022 season with a Friday sweep of double-billed action at the Maryland Invite. The Eagles beat Navy and Rhode Island 3-1.
FGCU improved to 2-0 to start the year, winning the season opener for the sixth consecutive season. Tournament host Maryland beat Rhode Island 3-0 earlier in action starting today. The Vert et Bleu are scheduled to face Rainelle Jones and Terps on Saturday at 6 p.m. Jones led the NCAA last season in blocks per set at 1.73.
Dana Axener became the FGCU’s new all-time leader in Career Digs (1986) in victory over the Navy.
“It’s good to have a few games under our feet”, head coach Matt Botsford said. “And while there were clearly areas we could have handled better in each game, I really like the way we closed out. Lauren was exceptional all day, both on the service line and at the net attack. That helped stabilize things for us as we played with different formations.
Seeing Juliana back on the pitch was special as we all know how hard she has worked since her injury. She has such a front line presence and we felt it immediately with her back. Kudos to Dana for cementing her place in the record books. She does everything for us in the backcourt and so deserves her spot at No. 1.”
FGCU 3, Navy 1
FGCU secured a four-set, 3-1 victory over Midshipmen to kick off the 2022 season.
Navy shot first in the first set as FGCU trailed 2-0, but the Eagles would counter with a 9-2 run to lead 9-4 early in the game. The Midshipmen shot within three, 10-13 halfway through the first, but the Eagles managed to put Navy aside for a 25-20 victory in the first set.
Navy bounced back to steal the second set (25-22) and tied the game at 1-1 apiece. Despite five serve errors in the second, Navy tested the Eagles’ reception and led the FGCU in both kill (15-11) and ace (3-0) categories.
In the third, Navy took the lead 9-6.
Senior Lawrence Clark would tie the all-important third set at 11-11 with a power kill. The contenders fought back step by step and took a late 20-18 lead, but FGCU managed to wrap up a 7-2 run to capture third (25-22) and lead the game 2-1. The third set saw nine tie scores and six lead changes.
The Verts et Bleus capitalized on the momentum and took an 8-3 lead in the fourth. FGCU would cap a 5-0 run to seal the fourth set (25-16) and season opener.
Navy led FGCU in total wins 43-37 while FGCU’s clean defense won 14-9, keeping Navy just .139 hit percentage. The FGCU took advantage of the Navy’s 21 service errors en route to victory despite some offensive difficulties.
Offensively, Clark led the way in Game 1 with 11 kills. ASUN Pre-Season Player of the Year Erin Shomaker added eight kills and seven blocks. Chelsey Lockey recorded 28 assists.
With 14 digs against the Navy, Axner became the FGCU’s new all-time leader in career digs (1,972), surpassing Whitney Hendry’s total of 1,965 (2004-07).
FGCU 3, Rhode Island 1
The Eagles took a 17-8 lead to open against the Rams. Rhode Island fought back to shoot with in five (22-17), but FGCU took the win in a set 25-19.
The momentum the Rams gained in the second half of the first set propelled them to a 26-24 win in the second to tie the game. FGCU held a 24-20 set point lead in the second as the Eagles lost the second two sets of the day.
Botsford’s side made adjustments, came out firing and sailed to set up a three-and-four set win to claim the match. FGCU won 25-14 and 25-10, never trailing in the final two sets.
Shomaker (15) and Clark (12) posted double-digit wins over the Rams. Tennessee transfer Lilly Felts hit for nine. As a team, FGCU held a .281 hit percentage in the second game of the day.
Shomaker is now 16 eliminations away from moving to 6th all-time career at FGCU, 911.
Lockey recorded 46 assists and tied the team-leading ace mark of five alongside Clark. Lockey and Clark’s five aces each tied for sixth in the FGCU’s all-time individual match records for most aces in a four-set contest.
In defense at the net, skylar english displayed five blocks.
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IT TAKES A TEAM to achieve our new goal – a $10 million campaign to address the needs of student-athletes for continued academic success, life skills, mental health, nutrition, strength and conditioning, as well as the department’s needs for facility expansion and improvements as well as mentorship and leadership training for coaches and staff. The name embodies our mission and the goal of the EAGLE – Eagle Athletics Generating Lifetime Excellence campaign. Join our team and commit your donation today to help the Eagles of tomorrow!
Matt Botsford completed his eighth season as head coach of the FGCU women’s volleyball program in 2021 after being hired on February 10, 2014. During his tenure, teams coached by Botsford compiled an overall record of 186-59 (.759), including a 96-20 (.827) ASUN in-game record. Including last year’s unprecedented spring season, he has taken the program to heights it has never seen in the Division I era (2007-present) – recording at least 20 wins over six of the past seven seasons and at least 10 conference wins. 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 second-place finish in the ASUN regular season, and the next two saw the Eagles advance to the tournament championship. Now the team has won four straight regular season titles, including two ASUN Tournament Championship titles. On September 10, 2016, Botsford led his team to a five-set victory over Indiana at Alico Arena, which marked the program’s first-ever victory against a team from a Power-5 conference. In 2018 he also led the team to a win over Miami, Florida – the Power 5 program’s first-ever road win, and the Eagles followed that up with a straight-sets win over the Hurricanes at a neutral site in 2019. In 2021, Botsford led the Eagles to 27 wins, tying the program record previously set in the 2016, 2018 and 2019 seasons, and an NCAA First Round win over Texas Tech. The victory over the Red Raiders marked the second NCAA first-round victory for the Greens and Blues following their 3-2 victory over No. 13 UCF in Orlando in 2018.
FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU’s Charities of Choice Athletics. For more information, including how to contribute, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and use the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.
ABOUT THE FGCU
FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 92 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 14+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just 10+ seasons of DI playoff eligibility , the Eagles have fielded 45 teams or individuals competing in the NCAA Championships. In 2022, the men’s golf team became the first program to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Eight FGCU programs ranked in the top 25 nationally in their respective sports, including women’s basketball (#20, 2021-22), beach volleyball (#20, 2022) and men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s football. (2018) as four of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Vert et Bleu posted the department’s best sixth place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top 100 nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and Florida State’s top seven teams won the NCAA Public Recognition Award for their rate of academic progression in their sport. FGCU also collectively achieved a record 3.50 classroom GPA in the fall 2020 semester and outperformed the general undergraduate college population for 26 consecutive semesters. In five of the past six semesters (Fall 2019 – Fall 2021), the Eagles have reached another milestone as all 15 programs have achieved a team GPA of 3.0 or higher in each. The Eagles also served an all-time high of 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two finalists for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.