Volleyball pulls off comeback win against FGCU in return to Jacksonville

Jacob Justice, Sports Reporter

The University of North Florida (UNF) volleyball team showcased resilience and grit after the Ospreys pulled off a 3-2 comeback win against Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) on Friday.

This marked UNF’s first “home” game of the season, although it took place in rival Jacksonville University’s Swisher Gymnasium. The Ospreys will call this home until renovations of UNF Arena are complete.

The Florida Gulf Coast squad came out strong, taking control early on and winning the first set by a score of 25-20.

The Eagles carried this momentum into the second set, with their lineup and intensity proving to be a challenge for the Ospreys as they took the second frame by a commanding score of 25-16. 

In what was going to seemingly be a 3-0 sweep for FGCU, the Ospreys fought back in the third and won it with a highly competitive score of 27-25, providing a needed momentum change for UNF.

When asked as to what changed heading into the third set, head coach Kristen Wright credited a change in lineup and formation as the shift the Ospreys needed. 

“We changed our lineup, our 6-2 wasn’t working and that happens from time to time, we went with a 5-1 in a similar aspect where we Mahalia White (#5) in the back row,” Wright said. “We’ve been resting her cause she scored so much, and it just worked better against this team when she was swinging a bit more from the back row.”

Volleyball players celebrate comeback win
UNF made the most of their return to the River City, fighting to an impressive comeback win against FGCU. Photo via UNF athletics.

This adaptation proved to be fruitful, as Mahalia White created a huge impact throughout the game with an astounding 20 kills, helping lead the Ospreys to victory.

The Ospreys came out swinging in the fourth set, proving that they still had a lot of fight left in their squad. UNF took it 25-20 as the Eagles failed to have an answer to their adaptation.

The final set proved to be a nail-biter, with FGCU seeming to have a response of their own to the new momentum of the UNF squad, creating a tense back-and-forth set with a very close score. 

With the pressure on and the game on the line, the Ospreys pulled through with their tenacity, shocking the Eagles by taking the final set by a very close 15-13 and pulling off the reverse sweep win against FGCU.

When asked about the resilience of this team and what allowed them to keep fighting through the face of adversity, Coach Wright described it as the culture they have built, accrediting her team with building off of each other and the bond that they have built.

The Ospreys will look to build off of this win in the future, with games in the upcoming week against FAMU and Lipscomb presenting a new challenge for this UNF team to face.


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