ORLANDO, Fla. – The University of Georgia women’s volleyball team fell in five sets to Florida State to open play at the UCF Invitational Thursday evening (25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 15-25, 13-15).
Junior Kacie Evans became the first Bulldog in 2021 to record a 20-kill match, finishing with a new career-best 29. She fell one kill shy of being the first Bulldog with 30 kills in 13 years. She also picked up her second double-double in a row with 18 digs, also a new career best. Fellow junior Amber Stivrins added 12 kills for her fifth double-digit kill match in a row.
Freshman setter Clara Brower recorded her first career double-double, tallying 45 assists and a season best 13 digs.
The Bulldogs (3-4) had five top the double-digit dig mark including Evans and Brower, joined by freshman libero Mallory Downing (17), senior Claire Rothenberger (16), and freshman Bailey Cox (13). On the net, sophomore Phoebe Awoleye tallied a career-best nine blocks. As a team, Georgia put up a season-best 12 blocks.
The opening set proved to be a battle as neither team was able to capture much of a lead. FSU (5-1) went ahead by two 19-17 and Georgia called a timeout. Out of the break, a kill from Stivrins and an unforced Seminole error retied it at 20-all and FSU called its first timeout. The Bulldogs kept the momentum to take a 22-19 lead and force the final timeout from the Seminole bench. Georgia was able to hold on to take the first set 25-22. Evans tallied a match-best seven kills in the set.
A 10-1 run in set two opened a hefty 13-4 lead for Georgia. Evans had three kills and an ace in the run to tip the double-digit kill mark. Georgia led by as much as nine at 17-8 before FSU rattled off three-straight to force a timeout from the Bulldogs, 17-11. FSU battled to slice Georgia’s lead to one in the set, 20-19, and force the Bulldogs’ final timeout. The Seminoles kept the momentum going to overcome the deficit and swipe the set away from Georgia, 25-22. Evans tallied seven more kills in the second and Rothenberger put up seven digs.
Once again, Georgia found itself up a bunch in the third set, leading by as much as eight, 14-6. This time, Georgia was able to hold on and take the set 25-21 and retake a set lead in the match.
FSU flipped the script and took an early lead on the Bulldogs in set four, 7-2, prompting and early timeout from Georgia. It was all Seminoles in the set as FSU rolled to a 25-15 win in the set to force a fifth and final set.
The Bulldogs called timeout down 7-3 in the fifth. Down 12-8, the Bulldogs won five straight to take a 13-12 lead. The lead did not last as FSU regrouped to win the next three and take the match, 15-13.
The Bulldogs continue play in Orlando Friday evening when they take on Florida Gulf Coast. First serve against the Eagles is set for 5:30 p.m. from The Venue at UCF.
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