By Jenna Smith/Asst. Sports Director
Head coach Rita Buck-Crockett is on the verge of potentially transforming the state of the women’s volleyball program.
After two consecutive losing seasons for the Panthers, the team has progressed into one of the best teams in Conference USA.
Since taking over the program in 2012, Buck-Crockett and her team’s have had a 60-88 record.
This season, however, the Panthers (14-10, 6-4 C-USA) are just one win shy of tying Buck-Crockett’s personal record for wins in a single season. The last time theteam recorded a winning season was back in 2015.
FIU is currently ranked sixth in the conference and is primed to make a run at the C-USA title.
“The goal for the rest of the season is to make it to Conference and win,” said senior Margherita Bianchin.
Bianchin arrived at the program in 2017 from St. John’s University and has been a leading force for FIU.
The senior from Venice, Italy is a triple threat playmaker due to her ability to attack, set and dig on the court.
As the team’s captain, Bianchin describes the team to be very committed this year.
“Majority of the players want to play volleyball professionally in the future. In the past, players were more focused on jobs after college,” said Bianchin.
The last time the Panthers were at the C-USA tournament was back in 2015 where they lost in the first round against the University of Texas at San Antonio 3-1.
With the Panthers on the on the outside looking for the top-five positioning in the conference, the team must attempt to make up ground against North Texas, Western Kentucky, UTSA, FAU and Rice.
The Rice Owls sit on top of the conference with a perfect 10-0 league record and a 19-4 overall record.
FIU will go against Rice on Saturday, Nov. 10 at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center in the final gameof the 2018 regular season.
The team has become very comfortable with winning at home (10-1) but struggles with traveling on the road. Their record for away games is 2-7.
“Sometimes the girls may eat different, not receive any calls, or sleep different while away,” said Buck-Crockett on the team’s road struggles.
The Panthers will play their next game against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (7-17, 2-8 C-USA) on Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center.