Panther Preview: FIU volleyball hosts the 305 Challenge

Junior outside hitter Kira Givans sending back the ball. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

Will Duval | Sports Director

The FIU volleyball team is hosting three teams in the 305 Challenge, beginning on Friday, Sep. 15, 2023 in Miami, Florida.

Coming into the tournament, the Panthers are on a five game losing streak after dropping all three matches at the Husky Invitational in Seattle, Washington.

In their final match of the tournament, FIU took a 3-1 loss at the hands of the Washington Huskies on Sunday, Sep. 10, 2023.

Due to the Panthers’ recent performances, their record has dropped to 2-8 for the season, tying with Jacksonville State for the worst record in Conference USA.

Looking to snap their coldstreak, FIU is set to take on the Jacksonville Dolphins as their first opponent of the tournament.

Similarly to the Panthers, Jacksonville finds themselves in the midst of a three game losing streak. 

To wrap up the tournament, the Dolphins took a 3-1 loss to the Army Black Knights at the Bulldog Classic in Athens, Georgia.

Leading the way for Jacksonville is graduate student outside hitter Anna Erickson, who has totaled a team-high 86 kills on 277 total attempts this season.

For their second match of the tournament, FIU is taking on the Stetson Hatters only eight hours after their first.

Starting their season with a positive 5-4 record, the Hatters are coming off a 1-2 outing at the FAMU Tournament in Tallahassee, Florida.

Finding success on offense, Stetson has 371 kills with a 19% fielding percentage as a team, compared to the Panthers’ 360 kills on 17.2% fielding percentage.

Despite allowing 386 kills to opponents, the Hatters’ defense is still statistically better than FIU’s, as they’ve allowed 437 kills defensively.

With the tournament reaching its conclusion on Saturday, Sep. 16, 2023, the Panthers final match will be against the Indiana Hoosiers.

Bolstering a 6-3 record, the strongest of the tournament, the Hoosiers have found extreme defensive success to start the season.

As a team, Indiana has only allowed 281 kills defensively, the lowest number in the tournament. 

Offensively, the Hoosiers have been elite at serving, collecting 61 serve aces this season while allowing 29 to other teams.

The 2023 serve ace totals of the 305 Challenge’s participants. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

If FIU wants to turn around their slow start, they must remain disciplined and focused throughout the tournament. By keeping pace with the other teams and not committing unnecessary errors is how the Panthers can hope to leave victorious.

The FIU volleyball team opens up the 305 Challenge against the Jacksonville Dolphins on Friday, Sep. 15, 2023 at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center in Miami, Florida.

Tip-off is set for 11:00 a.m. and the match will be broadcasted on ESPN+.

Follow Will Duval on X: @WillDuval40

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