Golden Panthers extend win streak to six with road win over North Texas

Photo by Rebecca Villafane

Photo by Rebecca Villafane

By: Eduardo Almaguer / Staff Writer

The Panthers have caught fire. On Sept. 23, the team entered Sun Belt Conference play second in the East division with the help of a five-game winning streak.

FIU (9-3, 1-0 SBC) also had the best blocking team in the conference, and was ranked top three in kills, hitting percentage and assists.

Slowly but surely, the blurred idea of a winning machine that head coach Danijela Tomic envisioned in the preseason was coming into focus.

North Texas (9-7, 0-1 SBC) was the first obstacle the team has faced in their first game of the road trip.

FIU did not blink twice. The Panthers surged to a 3-1 match win over the Mean Green (25-15, 20-25, 25-18, 25-19) to remain white-hot.

Once the scoreboard flashed 1-0 after the first play of the game in the first set, the Panthers did not let go of the lead.

Setter Renele Forde shined bright as she brought her arsenal against the Mean Green after recording three kills, a 1.000 hitting percentage, five digs and nine assists in the set.

Riding a 9-2 run, the Panthers built a gap that North Texas could not jump across as the score showed 21-12. Two errors by Eboni Godfrey of the Mean Green sealed the easy win for the Panthers, 25-15.

As the second set opened, the Mean Green managed to overcome their first set woes and jump ahead of FIU, 6-10. Errors drowned any attempt to make a comeback as FIU fell back even further.

With the score 10-17, the Panthers hope of a comeback seemed dim. All of a sudden, two Mean Green errors brought them to within five points. Two kills from middle blocker, Sabrina Gonzalez, closed the gap to three.

Two more North Texas errors and a Bjelica kill had now tied the game. The Panther offense was in full swing again and had battled to knot the score at 19-19.

North Texas’ Shelly Morton then froze the Panthers. On the heels of three consecutively unanswered kills, Mean Green took the set, 25-20.

After an early deficit kicked off the third set, the Panthers wasted no time turning things around.

FIU built a commanding seven-point lead over North Texas with the help of junior Marija Prsa, who managed to cross the double-double threshold for the second time in as many games.

The Panthers constantly staved off any momentum by answering one Mean Green kill with two more in their favor. Prsa and Bjelica teamed up to finish off North Texas with a three straight kills and capture the set, 25-18.

FIU and North Texas commenced the fourth set in a tug of war. Each team had their feet planted firmly, determined not to slip up as the lead swung back and forth between them. North Texas, however, buckled first.

Back-to-back kills by Bjelica sparked the offense as FIU began extending their lead.

The Mean Green tried mounting a comeback and came within three points of catching FIU, but their attempt failed. Four straight North Texas errors brought the Panthers to within one point away from a victory, and Prsa delivered the fatal blow to take the set, 25-19 and win the game.

Forde joined Prsa in posting a double-double, the second of the setter’s career. Forde led the team in both assists (45) and digs (16).

Bjelica posted a team-high 17 kills and middle blocker Andrea Lakovic had a team-high six blocks.

The win streak now stands tall at six consecutive games and the winning machine that Tomic pictured sharpened just a bit more.

Be the first to comment on "Golden Panthers extend win streak to six with road win over North Texas"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.