Ospreys volleyball starts season with trio of road wins

Riley Platt, Reporter

UNF volleyball began their 2021 season down south in the FAU Tournament, hosted by the Florida Atlantic Owls. It’s hard to ask for a better start than winning your first three games, and the Ospreys did just that.

Featured image: UNF Ospreys/Brock Borgeson

The Ospreys got started on Friday morning, facing the Wofford Terriers in their first match. Wofford posted a record of 10-7 last season and proved to be a threat early on Friday.

The Terriers jumped ahead early, taking the first set 25-17. However, the Ospreys would turn the table in the second set, winning 25-14 to even the match at two sets a piece. They would carry this momentum into the next set, going up two sets to one.

With their backs against the wall, Wofford fought back to curb the UNF run. The Terriers managed to eke out a 25-20 win in the fourth set to stay alive. The fifth set would determine who took home the match win. 

It was tight throughout, and the final set came down to the wire. A key block by Mizzou transfer Dariana Hollingsworth-Santana would ultimately secure both the set and the match win for the Ospreys. What a way to get things started for the former Tiger with her new squad! 

Head coach Kristen Wright acknowledged that while there are things that need to be worked on, it is early in the season and that it’s part of the growing process.

“It’s the first game of the year. There’s going to be a lot of things we’re looking at, [like] chemistry. We’ve got a lot of new freshmen on the floor; all three of them got in and did a fine job… It takes some time getting it together, and I thought we did a good job when it matters most.”

While this was a great way to start the weekend, there was more work to be done. The night-cap consisted of a match with the hosting FAU Owls. Contrary to the opening match, UNF secured a 25-18 win in the first set to grab an early advantage.

FAU wouldn’t go down too easily, though, as the Owls evened up the series with a 25-20 win in the second set. From here on out, it was smooth sailing for the Ospreys as they took the next two sets by a combined 19 points. Just like that, UNF had won their first two matches of the season.

There remained one final match for the weekend: a Saturday morning duel with the Stony Brook Seawolves. The Seawolves lost both of their matches on Friday, with both losses coming in the fifth set.

The Ospreys got things rolling with a 25-21 win in the opening set. Things appeared to be slipping out of Stony Brook’s grasp following a commanding 25-17 second set win for the Ospreys. The Seawolves had one last chance to turn their weekend around.

Stony Brook gave everything they had, pushing the Ospreys past the standard 25-to-win point. However, UNF would still prevail 28-26 to sweep the Seawolves three sets to none. Along the way, Hollingsworth-Santana posted her 14th career double-double thanks to 15 kills and 14 digs.

The weekend for these two teams couldn’t have been more of polar opposites. UNF picked up the overall sweep, while Stony Brook fell victim to a sweep, losing all three of their matches. It’s hard to imagine it will be a fun trip back to New York for the Sea Wolves. The Ospreys will have a much shorter, and likely more positive, trip back to Jacksonville.

Friday, Sept. 3, will mark the beginning of UNF’s own tournament. Virginia Tech, Georgia State, and Davidson will come to campus to take part in the UNF Invitation presented by Sheraton Jacksonville. 

The Ospreys will be in action against Virginia Tech on Friday night at 7 p.m. They will then face GSU on Saturday night at 7 p.m. and Davidson on Sunday at 1 p.m. The event will be open to the public and students are welcome to attend.


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