It was another dominant weekend for the Georgia Southern University volleyball team (14-2) as the Eagles opened Southern Conference play 2-0.
Friday night the Eagles faced Elon University (9-8, SoCon 1-1) in their first conference game of the year.
The first game of the match was hard fought on both sides. After dominating most of the set, senior middle Enjoli Johnson managed to record the final kill with a score of 25-20.
Game two featured GSU junior outside hitter Jamie DeRatt and senior outside hitter Nicole Jeschelnik putting on a show for the crowd. Sophomore setter Katalin Minnerly assisted the two attackers and ended the round 25-17.
Elon made adjustments to its game plan and mounted a comeback, trading scores most of the third game. The Eagles fought back late, tying the game at 25-25 before the Phoenix fit in two consecutive points sending the match to game four.
DeRatt continued her solid performance into game four. Assisted by the defense of sophomore libero Alex Beecher, GSU held off a late rally by Elon and finished the match 25-21.
Jeschelnik described the importance of securing their first SoCon win as making a statement. She said, “This sets the tone for conference. If we come ready to play every game and if we play our best things will go our way.”
Statistically the Eagles were solid on the night. Jeschelnik recorded 16 kills and 14 digs along with DeRatt racking up 15 kills and 13 digs. Sophomore Crysten Curry denied Elon attackers with five block assists and one solo block.
Saturday afternoon the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (8-7, SoCon 1-1) rolled into the Hanner Fieldhouse looking to snap the Eagles seven game win streak.
After the first set of the day GSU made it seem like it was going to be another runaway. With the help of Minnerly, the Eagles easily put down the Spartans 25-18.
UNCG shook off its pre game jitters and took the court for game two. With a combination of devastating spikes and a mass of Eagle errors the Spartans were able to pull ahead and grab game two 25-20.
The Spartans attempted to battle back late in game three but GSU senior right side Katie Bange sent a ball to the middle of the court giving her team a 25-23 victory.
Game four was a repeat of game two. The Eagles struggled to send a spike towards the opposite court without it being immediately returned. The Spartans took advantage and won 25-20, forcing the Eagles’ first five-game match of the season.
GSU hunkered down in game five. The 15-10 set gave the Eagles a 3-2 victory over the Spartans.
DeRatt led the team with 23 kills, with Beecher leading in digs with 27. Curry had another dominant game, defensively blocking a total of 8 spikes.
Minnerly acknowledged a distinct difference between the typical three-game matches and the five-game match they played Saturday.
“It’s definitely harder, and it’s a lot more intense because there is more stress, especially in that fifth set when you are out of breath,” Minnerly said.
The Eagles are riding high after two straight conference wins and they hope to carry their momentum into Tuesday when they face off against The Citadel (4-13). The game will be at 6 p.m. in Hanner Fieldhouse.