Volleyball beats rival JU in five-set masterpiece

Spinnaker

By Zach Morgan

The UNF volleyball team turned itself around by rebounding from a four-game losing streak with three straight wins. The Ospreys (11-14 overall, 3-6 Atlantic Sun) defeated Bethune-Cookman (9-14, 3-2 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conerence) 3-0 Oct. 18 to start the winning streak. They beat Jacksonville University (11-15, 3-6 A-Sun) Oct. 21 in an incredible five-set match. UNF finished the weekend Oct. 22 with a 3-1 defeat of FAMU (6-12, 4-1 MEAC).

“Improving every day, being more confident, believing in ourselves, pushing forward, playing with confidence is our moniker right now,” Campbell said.

The team then came home to prepare for crosstown rival, JU. A large crowd was expected, due to the rivalry and the other events scheduled for that evening — and a large crowd definitely arrived. In front of 822 fans, the Osprey’s put on an incredible show, coming back from a 2-0 set deficit to win the game 3-2 (23-25, 23-25, 25-16, 25-22, 21-19) with gut-wrenching excitement.

Outside hitter Paige Pridgeon had a career game, recording a career high, tying 26 kills and a career high 29 digs. Pridgeon wasn’t the only one to have a career night in front of the rowdy crowd; Outside hitter Anna Budinska set career highs in both digs (18) and kills (19). In a match that seemed as if it would send UNF back to their losing ways, the volleyball team scratched and clawed their way to a victory against JU.

Budinska said the game was one of the best she’s ever played in. The fact that it was against JU made it even better.

“[It] was a crazy game because we always compete really well with JU, but last night was just awesome,” Budinska said. “We were down two to zero and we didn’t give them a chance to beat us at all.”

In the second match of the weekend, the Ospreys took on the FAMU Rattlers in a game that could give UNF its first three-game winning streak of the season. That’s exactly what UNF accomplished after notching a 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 25-15-26-24) victory over the Rattlers.

In what turned out to be a good night for the volleyball team, two players continued the ‘career games’ pattern and turn in two of their own. Middle blocker Carolyn Jenkins led the Ospreys with a career-high 19 kills and four blocks. Jenkins only miss-hit three times, leaving her with a personal best .522 hitting percentage. Budinska decided to one up herself from the night before by recording 24 digs against the Rattlers. Finally, Pridgeon recorded her second consecutive double-double with 18 kills and 19 digs.

Jenkins said the whole team is what really should be considered, not just individual players.

“The consistency of all of our players [has lead to our success],” she said. “We’re just getting more confident in each other and in ourselves.”

The Ospreys look to continue this momentum with the season winding down and only four
games remaining, all against A-Sun foes. If the Ospreys are going to qualify for the playoffs, it’ll come down to winning these last four games.

Upcoming games:

10/28 at Mercer at 7 p.m