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Volleyball wins two matches in home tournament

The UNF women’s volleyball team showed improvement Sept. 10-11 after going 2-2 in its home tournament.

The Ospreys took on the Chattanooga Mocs in their first game; sophomore outside hitter Paige Pridgeon and junior outside hitter Jessica Catelano led the team. The Ospreys claimed the match in five sets, 26-24, 25-20, 17-25, 21-25, 15-10. Pridgeon had 18 kills and 13 digs, while Catelano had 14 kills and 15 digs.

The Ospreys were winning two sets to none, when the Mocs came back and won two straight sets.

“Our emotions were down, and I was just thinking of ways to get out of it,” Pridgeon said.

Pridgeon’s teammate Catelano also thought they were letting the Mocs score easy points, but when they brought back the energy, they won, she said.

This marked the first win for the Ospreys on the season, improving to 1-6. Head Coach Kevin Campbell said the team was coming together as a whole due to players coming off the injured list, and playing well together helped their team in the tournament.

“I think it’s good to play at home. I’m really glad the whole team is together again,” Campbell said. “We’ve had some injuries that we’re past now, and we’re a really close team, so the fact that we’re all together helps.”

A key player that made her way back to the volleyball court was senior outside hitter Marshay Greenlee. Greenlee made her debut this season in the first game of the tournament with six kills.

“Marshay has done a great job and has recently earned a starting position, and she, as a senior, brings a lot of confidence, knowledge, intensity, energy to our court and helps us a lot,” Campbell said.

The next match in the Best Western Invitational was against Troy University, who had a record of 4-5 before playing the Ospreys. The Ospreys took the match, defeating the Trojans in five sets, 25-22, 22-25, 25-18, 20-25, 16-14.

Leading the team again was Pridgeon with 24 kills and 13 digs. Sophomore libero Nicole Baran had 18 digs in the match, while freshman setter Britt Claessens tallied 54 assists. The Ospreys communicated on the court, which led to their victory.

“We practiced really hard this week and had a competitive practice, and it showed in the game,” Pridgeon said. “We worked together as a team and grinded it out just like in practice. Overall I think we played the best volleyball we’ve played all season, and it goes back to practice.”

They worked really hard in practice last week, and it really showed once they stepped out on the court, she said. With experienced players like Greenlee back on the court, it gives the Ospreys an advantage they have been looking for this whole season.

“Marshay has been working hard in practice ever since she got back, so I think that really helped,” Pridgeon said.

Although the Ospreys lost their last two games in the tournament, they believe the two wins gave them energy and confidence for the next tournament. The Ospreys lost against Charleston Southern three sets to one (20-25, 25-19, 23-25, 20-25) and Illinois Chicago three sets to one (17-25, 25-21, 11-25, 18-25) in the championship game.

“When you push them, they are going to push you back, and that’s how volleyball is,” Campbell said.

The Ospreys look forward to holding their momentum for the next tournament, keeping their confidence and energy up and their mistakes to a minimum.

“I think it’s just the beginning of what’s going to come,” Pridgeon said. “We are still working hard in practice every day, and I think improving this weekend gave us a little bit of confidence and that reassurance that we can come together as a team and play together.”

Pridgeon and Baran both received the honors for the All-Tournament Team, the third honors for Pridgeon and the first for Baran.

The Ospreys compete Sept. 17-18 in the College of Charleston Invitational. The Ospreys will face College of Charleston Sept. 17 and Central Michigan and Radford the following day.

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