Ospreys soar past Eagles in ASUN-opening win on Valentine’s Day

John Watson, Sports Editor

Love was in the UNF Arena on Sunday as there were many things to love about one team’s performance. A win on Valentine’s Day against the ASUN preseason top team? What’s not to love about that.

The UNF Ospreys took down previously undefeated FGCU on Sunday afternoon as they defended their home turf and were on a mission to succeed. The mission was a success, with UNF winning 3-1 (25-21, 26-28, 25-23, 25-22).

 The Ospreys recorded their second win of the season as they defeated FGCU on Sunday afternoon.

The Eagles came into this contest 2-0 on the season, while the Ospreys were looking to find a spark after their historic comeback attempt fell short to Clemson just two days ago. From the opening serve to the closing whistle, it was apparent that a new fire had been ignited in UNF’s attack.

“We used that to fuel us,” Head Coach Kristen Wright said postgame about how the Clemson loss affected the team. “We were poised, and most importantly we executed in the timeliness that we’ve been training.”

The execution of Coach Wright’s team started to click in the first set as the Ospreys stayed consistent and were able to capitalize on FGCU’s attack errors. UNF would close out the set 25-21 on a Gabby O’Connell kill and took a 1-0 lead.

The second set was a back and forth contest where the Eagles finally found their groove and started using their power and kill efficiency to win points. While UNF saved two set points and even had a set point at 26-25, the Eagles would rally to win the set 28-26.

After the second set wrapped up, UNF came out in the third swinging and determined to win. Recording their highest set hitting percentage in the entire match, the Ospreys used this to overpower the Eagles and ended the set on a 3-0 run to win 25-23 and take a 2-1 match lead.

This appeared to be the turning point in the match as the Eagles seemed to have to scramble in the final set and make defensive stops. When asked about the critical third set, Coach Wright noted that when her team is clicking and mentally and physically in rhythm, they can beat anyone in the country.

The fourth and final set saw UNF as fierce as ever as the Ospreys closed out the set 25-22 to pick up their first home win of the season.

Coach Wright loved how her team played and praised veteran Gabby O’Connell on her performance.

Before the game, O’Connell was honored for achieving 1,000 career kills as a player. As a graduate student, O’Connell is one of the veterans on the team and stressed the importance of playing for each other.

“What better way to win on Valentine’s Day,” O’Connell said. “I think we played for our love for the game and love for each other, and we were super excited to play and get after it.”

Some other performances to highlight were those of Osprey outside hitter Solimar Cestero and Osprey setter Julianna Askew. Cestero tied O’Connell in team-high kills with 15, and Askew posted a game-high 48 assists.

On the other side, FGCU outside hitter Erin Shomaker led all players in kills with 21.

Both teams are scheduled to play each other once again on Monday at 2 PM at the UNF Arena. The Ospreys will be looking to repeat their performance this afternoon with another win, while the Eagles will need to clean up their errors if they seek to win on the road. Follow along with UNFSpinnaker for more coverage of UNF sports.


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