TAMPA - The Florida Gulf Coast University volleyball team fell to in-state foe USF, 3-1 (14-25, 21-25, 25-17, 16-25), Tuesday night at The Corral. The Green and Blue fall to 4-7 overall on the season, while the Bulls improve to 8-5 overall.
Junior Karina Mambucaled the Eagles with a team-high eight kills to go with five digs. Sophomore Jill Hopper registered seven kills and a team-high 13 digs, while junior Kaitlin Holm finished with seven kills, three digs and a block. The setting duo of sophomore Gigi Meyer and junior Courtney Greenberg finished with a combined 32 assists and 14 digs.
USF took the first set (25-14) thanks to a .314 hitting percentage in the frame. The Bulls defense held FGCU to a .083 hitting percentage to start the fifth match in the series' history (FGCU leads 3-2).
After never leading in the first set, the Eagles jumped out to 14-5 lead, highlighted by four kills from Hopper. Trailing 18-12, USF used an 8-0 run to take a 20-18 lead and force head coach Dave Nichols to call a timeout. After the break, the Bulls scored five of the next eight points to win the set 25-21 and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
The Green and Blue didn't go away quietly and were able to snap USF's set win streak, which started during a 3-1 win over James Madison on Sept. 14, at 11, with a 25-17 decision in the third stanza. After the two squads battled to a 14-14 tie, FGCU employed an 11-3 run, capped by a service ace from Greenberg, to take the set (25-17).
The Bulls rebounded in the fourth set by holding FGCU to a .075 hitting percentage. USF led the game from start to finish and went on to win the set (25-16) and the match 3-1.
The Eagles will be back in action this weekend when they open Atlantic Sun play with a pair of matches in Georgia. FGCU will take on Kennesaw State on Friday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. and will battle Mercer on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 3 p.m.