Panthers win Stetson Invitational

Stefano Rivera/Contributing Writer

The women’s volleyball team traveled to Deland, Florida to partake in the Stetson Invitational this past weekend. The team was set to face off against Stetson University on Friday, Sept. 11 at 3 p.m. and against Mercer University on Saturday, Sept. 12 at noon.

Before coming into this event, the Panthers were 4-2, going 2-1 in their two previous events in the Panther Challenge and Blazer Classic.

The team started off the weekend with a closely contested win against Stetson. The Panthers beat the Hatters with a score of 26-24, 15-25, 25-21, 23-25, and 15-10.

The first set had a total of 11 ties and three lead changes, but the Panthers were able to hold and start the match off with a 1-0 set lead. However, the Hatters responded, forcing the Panthers to committing five attacking errors and taking the second set.  With the sets tied up at 2-2 entering the final set, the team was able to finish the job and improve its record to 5-2 for the season.

In the match, senior, Lucia Castro, recorded her 1,000th kill of her career, becoming only the seventh player in FIU history to reach that milestone. She accomplished this during the fourth set and finished the match with 17 kills and 18 digs, recording her third double-double of the season.

Several other Panthers stepped up as well. Senior, Gloria Levorin, had seven blocks, 13 kills, and a .478 hitting percentage, freshman, Katie Friesen, collected 39 assists, seven digs and seven kills. Senior, Adriana McLamb, contributed with 16 digs. Overall, it was a balanced team effort.

The following day, the team matched up against the Mercer Bears. The team cruised to a 3-0 set victory with scores of 25-18, 26-24, and 25-13, giving the Panthers a 6-2 overall record. With this win, the team clinched the Stetson Invitational, finishing the weekend 2-0.

Levorin was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player as she recorded a total of 19 kills, 11 blocks and a .410 hitting percentage throughout the two matches. Castro finished the match with 10 blocks and 11 kills, recording her fourth double-double of the season.

Sophomore, Jennifer Ene, joined Castro with 10 blocks, Friesen collected 32 assists and 12 digs and McLamb recorded a season-high, 17 digs.

The Panthers took the first set by forcing the Bears to a .056 hitting percentage. However, the following set was much tighter, containing five ties and three lead changes as the team barely slipped past its opposition. The Panthers dominated the final set as they forced Mercer to a -.024 hitting percentage.

Overall, the team finished with a .202 hitting percentage, seven aces and forced Mercer into 23 errors and a .034 hitting percentage, one of the team’s most dominating performances this season.

The team will host the FIU Invite late this week. The Panthers will face off against Bethune-Cookman University on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. and University of Central Florida at 7 p.m. The team will conclude the tournament with Seattle University on Friday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m.

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