Will Duval | Sports Director
The FIU volleyball team is traveling to the Pacific Northwest, taking on three teams at the Husky Invitational starting on Friday, Sep. 8, 2023 in Seattle, Washington.
Coming into this tournament, the Panthers are coming off of a 1-2 stretch at the UCF Challenge in Orlando, Florida.
After a valiant 3-0 win in their first match against the Alabama State Hornets, FIU couldn’t carry their momentum into their final two matches, falling 3-0 in both.
Despite the Panthers’ 2-5 start, freshman setter Gianna Tagoa’i continued her high-level of play, totaling a career high 35 assists in the match against the Hornets.
Tagoa’i has effectively served as the orchestrator of FIU’s offense in the early stages of the season, starting her college career with patience and prowess.
Due to her efforts, she was named Conference USA Freshman of the Week for the second week in a row, as announced on the team’s X account on Monday, Sep. 4, 2023.
For their first match of the tournament, the Panthers will be taking on the UNLV Rebels, who hold a 2-3 record.
Starting their season with a 2-1 record, the Rebels lost back-to-back matches, most recently taking a hard fought 3-2 loss to the Weber State Wildcats.
Leading UNLV’s offense is senior outside hitter Isabel Martin, who has totaled 91 kills while bolstering a 30% fielding percentage.
In two less sets played, Martin has 29 more kills than FIU’s statistical leader, senior outside hitter Jade Sadeiko, who has 62 kills this season.
FIU’s second opponent of the tournament are the Memphis Tigers, who are coming off of a 0-3 outing at the Toledo Invitational.
Losing four games in a row, the Tigers have struggled to find consistency. After starting their season 2-0, they now hold a 2-4 record, falling apart in their most recent stretch of matches.
Reaching its’ finale on Sunday, Sep. 10, 2023, the Panthers are wrapping up the tournament against the Washington Huskies.
Bolstering a 4-1 record, the Huskies are currently on a four game winning streak, only surrendering two sets during that stretch.
Offensively, Washington’s top three leaders in kills are only separated by two kills each, showing a balanced attack. Where they excel is in efficiency, averaging a 24.2% fielding percentage.
Even though FIU has 18 more kills than the Huskies, they are much less efficient, holding a 19.8% fielding percentage.
If the Panthers would like to turn their early season struggles around, they must attack opposing defenses more efficiently. While Tagoa’i leads the team in assists by a large margin, the entire team needs to create more opportunities to score easy points.
Opening up the Husky Invitational against the UNLV Rebels, the FIU volleyball team is traveling to Seattle, Washington on Friday, Sep. 8, 2023.
The Panthers’ first match is at 2:00 p.m. and the tournament will be played at the Alaskan Airlines Arena.
Follow Will Duval on X: @WillDuval40