Panthers go winless at Stetson Invitational

Stefano Rivera/ Contributing Writer

The women’s beach volleyball team’s most recent event saw it competing at the Stetson Beach Invitational in Deland, Florida Friday, March 25, and Saturday, March 26. In an event in which all opponents were ranked inside the top 10, this gave the Panthers an idea of where they are.

On Friday, the team first squared off with No. 4, University of California, Los Angeles. The Bruins swept the match, giving the Panthers their first 5-0 defeat of the season. Having three 5-0 victories throughout the season, the Panthers finally got an idea of how it felt to be at the losing end of them.

The Bruins (7-3) wreaked havoc on the Panthers, especially their No. 1 duo. The pair of Nicole and Megan McNamara defeated senior, Aren Cupp, and graduate student, Martyna Gluchowicz, convincingly, winning 21-13, 21-12.

The Panthers were beaten in two sets in all but one match. The No. 3 duo of graduate student, Tina Toghiyani, and sophomore, Estefanie Bethancourt, was able to force a third set, but was eventually defeated by UCLA’s No. 3 duo, Zana Muno/Reily Buchler, 19-21, 21-16, 15-5.

The loss to the No. 5 duo of redshirt sophomore, Savannah Davis, and sophomore, Natalia Giron, snapped its 7 match win streak to begin the season.

Up next for the Panthers on Friday was No. 2, Florida State University, a team they’ve had success against in the past. Last season, the team defeated the Seminoles twice, including a match in the AVCA National Championships.

However, this match was headed towards the opposite end of the spectrum. The Seminoles started off hot, defeating the Panthers No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 duos in dominant fashion. At the No. 4 duo, Davis and Giron finally gave the team a victory in three sets against FSU’s No. 4 duo, Annie Montgomery/Kayla Joyce.

The Seminoles won the match 4-1.

After losing both matches on Friday, the Panthers went into the latter half of the Stetson Invite hoping for some positive momentum.

The team faced off against host school and No. 9, Stetson University and although it resulted in 2-3 loss, it showed signs of improvements. The Panthers forced the Hatters into three, three-set matches, going 1-2 and split the other two matches.

Giron and Davis, at the No. 5 duo, continued their winning ways defeating Stetson’s No. 5 duo 21-14, 21-15. Davis reached her 22nd overall individual win, tying her for 10th all time in program history.

The event wrapped up on Saturday afternoon against No. 5, University of Hawaii. The Rainbow Wahine once again were too much for the Panthers to handle. In a 4-1 defeat, the Panther’s only victory came from the No. 5 duo of Toghiyani and Bethancourt, winning in three sets 11-21, 21-19, 16-4.

Coming into the Stetson Beach Invitational, the Panthers were ranked No. 10. Surely, after four consecutive losses, they will fall out of the top 10 for the first time this season.

The team will be back at home for the FIU Surf and Turf Invitational at Miami Beach. Friday, April 1, the Panthers will host University of South Carolina, Tulane University and Florida International University.

Saturday, April 2, will be much more challenging for the Panthers. They will take on No. 3, University of Southern California, and No. 8, Georgia State University to conclude the event.

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