Volleyball Wins Homewood Suites FGCU Invitational Title with USF Sweep
FORT MYERS, Florida. – A dominant performance Saturday night at the Alico Arena gave the FGCU volleyball team (3-0) a 25-8, 25-12, 25-22 victory over South Florida (1- 2) and the team title for the Homewood Suites FGCU Invitation. The Eagles sweep the Bulls scored the third straight-set victory to open the season, marking only the third time in program history (2015, 2017) to start a campaign in this manner.
Senior Chelsey lockey (Eaton, Colorado / Eaton HS) won tournament MVP honors, while junior Erin shomaker (Granville, Ohio / Granville HS) also secured a place in the tournament’s overall squad. With Lockey and Shomaker on the overall tournament team, there were CC Clausen from USF, Madyson Chitty from Rutgers and Loren Teter from UMBC.
Earlier today, USF beat UMBC 3-2 in the morning game, while Rutgers came back after two sets to defeat UMBC 3-2 in the afternoon game.
Overall, the Eagles’ 3-0 start marks the sixth time in program history to do so (2004, 2005, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021). In the series against the Bulls, tonight’s victory was the FGCU’s fifth in a row in the series, while the eight points awarded in the first set were the least awarded in a game between the clubs.
“I thought the first two sets we played exceptional defense – keeping a team in single digits like that was a good way to control things early on,” said the head coach. Matt botsford. “The third set slipped away a bit, but I was proud of the team’s balance at the end of the match.
In Saturday’s win, Shomaker led the Eagles with 12 kills for the third straight game, including his third straight knockout. Diploma Cortney Van Liew (Seymour, Ind./Columbus East HS) and first year student English skylar (Naples, Florida / Barron Collier HS) each had six wins, while Aja Jones (Venice, Florida / Venice HS) had five wins to go with four blocks. Senior Dana axner (Dublin, Ohio / Dublin Coffman HS) notched 17 digs, while Lockey had 21 assists and four assists.
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 players.
The FGCU ended the night with a score of 0.271, evidenced by an effort of 0.440 in the opener. The Bulls had negative winning percentages for the first two sets and ended the game with a .000 percentage despite a .281 in the third set. The Eagles held a 5-3 advantage in serving aces and an 8-5 advantage in blocks.
In the first set, an early five-point run saw the FGCU lead 7-2 and the Eagles never looked back. They closed the set by scoring eight of the last nine points for the 25-8 victory.
After USF opened the second set with four straight points, the FGCU snatched 11 straight points to take a sizable lead. The Eagles also had a six-point, four-point run in the set en route to the 25-12 win to move up 2-0.
The third set saw the Bulls start to find their rhythm by opening up a 7-2 lead early. The Eagles hit back to get closer to one after a three-point explosion with a Juliana Lentz (Miami, FL / St. Brendan HS) kill, a USF error and an English ace reduced the Bulls’ lead to 16-15. The eliminations of VanLiew, Shomaker and Jones gave FGCU their first lead of the set, 21-20. The Bulls managed to pick things up at 22 apiece before a pair of USF errors set the stage for Shomaker’s game-winning kill.
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 box office throughout the week. The Green and Blue will face Florida International on Friday at 7 p.m. and Florida A&M (11 a.m.) and USC Upstate (7 p.m.) on Saturday.
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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 February 10, 2014. During his tenure, Botsford-led teams compiled an overall record of 160 -53 (.748), including an 81 -19 (.810) ASUN read record. Including last year’s unprecedented spring season, he took the program to heights it had never seen in the Division I era (2007-present) – recording at least 20 wins in total in five of the past six seasons and at least 10 conference wins play each season. In 2018, he led the program to his first regular season championship since 2012 (fourth overall) and his first-ever ASUN tournament title, NCAA tournament appearance, NCAA tournament victory and his victory over a classified team. Its first two campaigns resulted in ASUN regular season finalists, and the next two saw the Eagles advance to the tournament championship and now the team have won three straight regular season titles, including one title. division and a second place finish in the ASUN tournament in the spring 2021 season. 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 over a team in a Power-5 conference. In 2018, he led the team to a victory over Miami, Fla – the program’s first-ever Power-5 road victory, and the Eagles followed with a straight-set victory over the Hurricanes at a neutral venue in 2019. .
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FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 85 regular season conference and tournament titles in just 13+ seasons at the Division I level. Plus, in just nine seasons of DI playoff eligibility, the Eagles brought together 42 teams or individuals competing in the NCAA Championships. Eight FGCU programs placed in the top 25 in their respective sports, including women’s basketball (# 21, 2020-21), beach volleyball (# 20, 2021) and men’s football (2018 , 2019) and women’s football (2018) as three of the most recent. In 2016-2017, the Greens and Blues secured a sixth place, the best in the department, in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors Cup and a top 100 nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had the top seven ASUN and Florida State teams that won the NCAA Public Recognition Award for their rate of academic progress in their sport. FGCU also collectively achieved a record 3.50 GPA in the classroom in the fall semester 2020 and outperformed the general undergraduate population for 24 consecutive semesters. The Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021 semesters each saw another milestone, with all 15 programs each achieving a cumulative team GPA of 3.0 or higher. The Eagles also completed a record 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two finalists for the NACDA’s First Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.