Panthers finish regular season 11-7

Stefano Rivera/ Contributing Writer

Although the University beach volleyball team hasn’t achieved the same amount of success it’s had the previous two years, it is finding its stride late in the season where it counts.

After being swept two weekends ago in Stetson, many heads were down; however, all that was needed was a little motivation and willingness to build strong character. The Panthers got right back on track the following weekend, winning four out of five matches in Miami.

To conclude the regular season, the Panthers participated in the Fiesta on Siesta Key on Saturday, April 9. The team competed against Grand Canyon University and Texas Christian University in this brief one-day event.

The Antelopes of Grand Canyon came into the match with a 13-3 record, defeating the College of Charleston and Florida Atlantic University the day before Friday, April 8. However, the Panthers were a whole different animal.

The Panthers nearly swept the Antelopes, getting off to a 4-0 lead, and ultimately winning 4-1. The lethal tandem of graduate student, Tina Toghiyani, and senior, Aren Cupp, got the team on the board first, winning 21-16, 21-17.

At the No. 4 slot, they defeated Grand Canyon’s sophomore, Emilee Erichsen, and junior, Jordyn Sanchez.

At the No. 5 spot for the Panthers, redshirt sophomore Savannah Davis, and sophomore, Natalia Giron, showed why they won CCSA Beach Pair of the Week honors last week. Together, they handled their competition with ease winning 21-13, 21-17.

The team’s only loss came from the No. 2 duo of graduate student, Martyna Gluchowicz, and junior, Marina Boulanger. In a tightly contested match, they fell 21-13, 18-21, 12-15.

Sophomore, Estefanie Bethancourt, and junior, Anabela Sataric, got pushed to a third set, but eventually won 21-14, 16-21, 15-11.

The Panthers then faced off against TCU. Going into the match, the Horned Frogs were 14-4 and winners of six in a row. Not only did the Panthers snap their win streak, but they ended the weekend with a sweep, finishing the regular season 11-7.

Head Coach Rita Buck-Crockett made a slight tweak to the lineups, pairing Boulanger with Sataric and Gluchowicz with Bethancourt, which proved to be successful. Both duos won their matches in two sets.

The rookie duo of freshman, Dominique Dodd, and junior, Katie Hogan, got another victory, finishing the afternoon 2-0. They won a closely contested, three-set match 19-21, 21-18, 15-11 at the No. 1 slot.

Cupp and Toghiyani once again competed together and won convincingly at the No. 4 spot, 21-11, 21-16.

For Toghyani, this win placed her at the top of the FIU beach volleyball record books. She surpassed Maryna Samoday for most individual wins, 63, in program history.

The team will have two weeks off until it’s back in action. FIU will send two pairs to Hawaii to partake in the Outrigger Resorts Aloha Invitational Friday, April 22. As they compete there, the rest of the team will head to Georgia to play in the first ever CCSA Conference Tournament.

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