Volleyball looks to defend undefeated conference record against Sam Houston

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

Will Duval | Sports Director

The FIU volleyball team is traveling to Huntsville, Texas to take on the Sam Houston Bearkats in a conference matchup in a two-game series on Friday, Sep. 29, 2023.

Scorching their recent opponents, the Panthers have won four out of their last five matches after sweeping the LA Tech Bulldogs in a two-game series.

Never surrendering a single set, they concluded the matchup with a 3-0 victory following graduate student outside hitter Syra Tanchin accumulating 17 of the team’s 50 kills.

Bolstering their record to 6-9 on the season, FIU jumped out to a 2-0 conference record after running away with their first conference games of the year.

Following a dominant stretch of games, sophomore libero Mandi Morioka was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week in light of her efforts and team’s success.

Against the Bulldogs, she totaled 41 digs over two games, totaling 20 in the first match and 21 in the second.

Totaling 170 digs over 50 sets, Morioka ranks fifth in total digs and average digs per set in CUSA this season.

Despite an identical record, the Bearkats’ most recent stretch of games have been the opposite of FIU’s.

Losing five matches in a row, they were only able to win two out of their 17 sets played in that span.

In their most recent game against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, they couldn’t find any offensive consistency, totaling 20 attack errors and held a 12.6% hitting percentage as a team.

Unable to help themselves serving the ball, Sam Houston has 97 service aces this season while also accumulating 95 service errors.

Providing a bright spot on an otherwise inefficient team, junior middle blocker McKenzie Morvant has collected 159 kills on 33.7% hitting percentage and leads them in both statistics.

Historically, the two teams have not met in 13 years, with the Panthers taking a 3-0 victory in their only matchup on Sep. 17, 2010.

Looking to remain undefeated in conference play, the FIU volleyball team begins a two-game series against the Sam Houston Bearkats on Friday, Sep. 29, 2023 in Huntsville, Texas.

Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. at the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum, with the game being broadcasted on ESPN+.


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