Several panthers move up program’s all-time records list

Stefano Rivera/ Contributing Writer

Winning at home and losing on the road has been a common theme for the women’s volleyball team throughout the season. In order for the Panthers to climb in the Conference USA standings, they would have to improve on their 1-3 conference record away from home.

On Friday, Oct. 23, the team did just that as they traveled to Boca Raton to face off against Florida Atlantic University. The Panthers defeated the Owls in five sets with a score of 15-25, 22-25, 25-16, 25-19 and 15-10 to give them their first conference road victory since Friday, Sept. 4 against University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The Panthers improved to 13-8 (7-3 in C-USA) and FAU fell to 15-6 (7-2 in C-USA). FIU is now 2-0 against the Owls this season. In the first set, the game was tied 10-10, but the Owls used a 15-5 run to take the first set. The Panther faired well defensively, led by senior middle blocker,Gloria Levorin , who tallied three blocks.

The Owls took the second set once again to take a commanding 2-0 lead. However, the momentum changed in the third set. Down 2-0, the Panthers did not panic. Instead, they started the set off on an 8-1 run and never looked back as they won the third set. Senior outside hitter, Lucia Castro, and sophomore middle blocker, Jennifer Ene, helped lead the charge as they combined for 10 kills.

In the fourth set, junior middle blocker, Katie Hogan, contributed with four kills as the Panthers were able to tie the match up at 2-2. FIU was able to complete the comeback in the fifth set and sweep the season series against the Owls. The Panthers became the first team to defeat the Owls at home this season. Coming into the game, FAU had a perfect record of 8-0 at home.

For the match, the team had 52 kills with only 18 errors for a final hitting percentage of .210. The Panthers also had the edge on the blocks column, out-blocking them 13.5-6. Castro led the team with 20 kills this match. This gave her 1,174 for her career and moved her up to fifth all-time, as she passed Olga Vergun, an ‘09 alumni. Defensively, senior libero, Adriana McLamb, finished with 15 digs. McLamb also moved up on the all-time Panther record, as she moved up to tenth all-time with 822 digs. McLamb passed ‘07 alumni Alyse Santisi in only her third season.

Ene and Hogan finished the match with 11 kills each and Levorin added with eight kills and eight blocks. Freshman setter, Dominique Dodd, finished with a career-high 27 assists.

The Panthers then traveled to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to face off against Middle Tennessee State University on Sunday, Oct. 25. Heading into this game, Middle Tennessee had a record of just 5-19 (3-7 in C-USA) and were at the bottom of the conference standings.

However, FIU did not take advantage of its opponent, losing in another five-set match with scores of 20-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-17 and 8-15. This is the third time the Panthers have been pushed to five sets in the last four matches. The team falls to 13-9 (7-4 in C-USA).

After dropping the first two sets, the Panthers found themselves in a familiar position. Just two days prior, they were in a 2-0 hole against FAU. The team went on to win the third set behind the play Ene as she finished with five kills and a hitting percentage of .444.  In the fourth set, the Panthers got off to a quick start, leading 12-5 and would not look back as they tied the match 2-2. Freshman outside hitter, Jade Faucette, led the team defensively with seven digs in the set. In the final set, the Blue Raiders would eventually pull away from the Panthers and not allow FIU to complete the comeback.

Senior middle blocker, Gloria Levorin, led the team with 16 kills and five blocks. Levorin now has 268 block assists, which puts her in fourth all-time in program history. McLamb also moved up the program’s all-time rankings after this game as she collected 21 digs. This put her at eighth all-time with 843 digs.Dodd got her second career start and finished with a career-high of 41 assists. She also contributed with five kills and eight digs.

The Panthers struggled to stop Middle Tennessee’s attack as senior outside hitter, Chelsea Ross, and redshirt junior middle blocker, Miri Shade, combined for 40 kills. The Blue Raiders finished the match with a hitting percentage of .249.

The Panthers will be home for their next three games against C-USA opponents, where they are a perfect 5-0.

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