03/06/2021 | 12 o’clock
FORT MYERS, Fla. — —. Erin Shomaker had a match high of 15 kills to lead the FGCU volleyball team (7-1, 5-1 ASUN) to a 25-22, 25-12, 25-11 win over Jacksonville on Saturday at Alico Arena. It was the Eagles’ fifth win in a row, and they all came in straight sets.
“I think we definitely improved our level of competition in the last two sets,” said FGCU assistant coach Kate Morrell said. “It was kind of a postponement from (kick off on Friday). Our defenses really took it up and our attack was a bit lacking. I think Erin saved us and was great offensively. They didn’t have an answer for her. Aja I did Worked very hard in the transition and was very positive for us. “
Shomaker (Granville, Ohio / Granville HS) Hit .355 while generating 15 of the FGCU’s 35 kills. She added eight digs, four blocks, and four aces. Meanwhile, Aja Jones made a huge contribution with a career height of eight blocks and five kills on a .375 clip. She now has at least three blocks in every game this year.
In the opening set, the FGCU used a 6: 1 run to open up a 14: 8 lead early on. Jacksonville prevailed at the top before triggering a 6-0 run that gave them a 22-19 lead. From there, however, the Eagles responded with a time-out and scored the last six points of the set to take advantage of the early advantage behind the game from Shomaker and Juliana Lentz. The two each had a kill and a block during the run, with Lentz taking care of the clinch kill.
The next set went back and forth, with the FGCU clinging to a 13-12 lead. However, Shomaker registered a kill at the closest point when the Eagles scored the final 13 points of the set.
During the run to close the second frame, Emma Szypszak had four blocks while Jones (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) added four blocks and a kill. Lentz (Miami, Florida / St. Brendan HS) also served the last 12 points.
“I think we’ve found some momentum in our serve,” said Morrell of the run, which also included the first five points of the next set. “Juliana confidently went back there and checked out a few points. That in turn gave Erin confidence. She also unsettled a few points there. I think a big advantage is that we have found momentum in our serve.”
According to Lentz and Szypszak (Mequon, Wis./Homestead HS) opened the third sentence with a pad, Cortney VanLiew served the next four points while scoring an ace and a kill when FGCU led 5-0. Moments later, Jones and Szypszak added another block as the Eagles led 9-4. After that, Shomaker had a kill to start an 8-0 run that served up the last seven points and produced three aces. The Greens and Blues led in the last frame with up to 15 points and achieved their 15th set win in a row.
Except for Shomaker, the trio of VanLiew (Seymour, Ind./Columbus East HS), Jones and Lentz each ended with five kills. Szypszak finished second on the team in blocks with a season high of six, and Lentz finished third and fourth on the team just behind Shomaker.
Chelsey Lockey (Eaton, Colo./Eaton HS), who also had two kills and seven digs, produced a match high of 30 assists while Dana Axner (Dublin, Ohio / Dublin Coffman HS) a team high had nine digs. VanLiew added six digs and Alayna Ryan (Fort Myers, Florida / Fort Myers HS) contributed four digs.
FGCU are now 22-11 against Jacksonville, which includes seven straight wins and a 12-4 record at the Alico Arena. The Eagles will be back in action next weekend with a series rematch against North Florida, which saw the FGCU lose the only one this year.
With her 14 kills and 13 digs this weekend, VanLiew is now three kills away from dwarfing Olivia Mesner (607, 2011-14) against ASUN competition for most of programming history, and she’s five digs shy to outdo Maggie Rick (823, 823,). 2015-18) for eighth place in the Division I era of the program.
ASUN STANDINGS / SCHEDULE
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Thursday February 25th
North Florida 3, Stetson 2
Friday February 26th
Kennesaw State 3, North Alabama 0
Stetson 3, North Florida 0
FGCU 3, Jacksonville 0
Lipscomb 3, Bellarmine 0
Saturday February 27th
FGCU 3, Jacksonville 0
Lipscomb 3, Bellarmine 0
Sunday February 28th
North Alabama, Kennesaw State, 2 p.m.
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Matt Botsford is in his seventh season as the head coach of the FGCU women’s volleyball program in 2019, having been hired on February 10, 2014. During his tenure, teams led by Botsford set a total of 148-51 (.741) records, including 74 -18 (.807) recordings on ASUN replay. Including 2019, he has taken the program to a high point it has not seen in the Division I era (since 2007) – he has recorded a total of at least 20 wins in five consecutive seasons and at least 10 conference game wins in six consecutive seasons. In addition, the team’s offensive efficiency has improved dramatically since Botsford launched. In its first two seasons, his squad achieved hit rates of .212 and .220. The next two at 0.267 and 0.256 percent are the third highest and fourth highest in program history. In 2018, he led the program to his first regular season championship since 2012 (fourth overall) and his very first ASUN tournament title, NCAA tournament appearance, NCAA tournament win, and victory over a ranked team. His first two campaigns resulted in a second place in ASUN’s regular season. The Eagles entered the tournament championship in the following two campaigns, and now the team has won two straight season titles. On September 10, 2016, Botsford led his team to a five-set win over Indiana at the Alico Arena, marking the program’s first win against a team from a Power 5 conference. Last year he led the team to a win over Miami, Florida – the very first Power 5 win on the program’s road. The Eagles won directly against the Hurricanes in a neutral location in 2019.
FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April for the benefit of the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), the FGCU Athletics charity. For more information, including how you can contribute, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry. Use the hashtag #FeedFGCU to raise awareness.
The FGCU teams have won an incredible 82 regular season and tournament titles for conferences in just 13 seasons in Division I. Additionally, in just nine seasons after the season, the Eagles have competed a total of 38 teams or individuals in NCAA championships. Seven FGCU programs have achieved a national top 25 placement in their respective sport – including women’s basketball (No. 24, 2019-20) as well as men’s football (2018, 2019) and women’s football (2018) as three of the youngest. In 2016-17, the Greens and Blues reached the top sixth place in the division in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and national top 100 placements, ahead of several Power 5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN, and Florida State’s top seven teams received the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their Academic Progress Rate (APR) in their sport and had the highest percentage of teams made by these two groups, respectively have been honored for the past three years. The FGCU achieved a combined classroom record of 3.46 GPA in the spring semester of 2020, outperforming the general population of university students for 22 consecutive semesters. Another milestone was reached in the fall semesters of 2019 and 2020, as all 15 programs achieved a team GPA of 3.0 or higher. The Eagles also achieved an all-time high of 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – as one of two runners-up for the first-ever NACDA Community Service Award, presented by the Fiesta Bowl.
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