ERAU Volleyball Falls to No. 9 Florida Southern, 3-1

Michael Pierce/ERAU Athletics

The Embry-Riddle volleyball team played host to Florida Southern on Saturday, and the Eagles gave the ninth-ranked team in the nation its toughest test of the season. The Blue and Gold dropped the match, 3-1 (24-26, 27-29, 25-23, 26-28), but ERAU forced the Moccasins to extra points in all three sets that FSC won.

Coming into Saturday’s match, Florida Southern had been forced to a fourth set just three times, but had never needed extra points in any of those matches.

With the loss, the Eagles fall to 8-1 on the year, while FSC improves to 10-0.

ERAU had three players in double-figures in kills and digs, led by Evelina Abdurakhmanova’s 15 kills and 12 digs. Ana Pajic chipped in 14 kills and 16 digs and Amanda Saunders added 12 kills and 12 digs. Tamires Ferreira was the fourth Eagle to notch a double-double with 43 assists, 21 digs and five kills, while Sumerr Paxton picked up a career- and match-high 36 digs.

The first set became a back-and-forth affair right out of the gates, with Embry-Riddle taking a 4-1 lead only to see Florida Southern rally back to go ahead, 6-4. A 4-0 Eagle run made it 8-6 but just a few points later the set was tied at 9-9. The Blue and Gold slowly built a three-point lead (17-14) but FSC scored four straight points to retake the lead, 18-17. Embry-Riddle rallied back to score five straight to earn set point at 24-21, but the Eagles couldn’t earn the 25th point to clinch the set. The Mocs fought off three straight set points and continued the run to a 26-24 set one victory.

Neither side opened up a substantial lead in set two until a Pajic kill sparked a 5-0 Eagle run to put the home team ahead, 17-12. As they did throughout the first set, the Mocs had an answer, rattling off seven consecutive points to pull ahead, 19-17. After the Eagles retook the lead briefly at 20-19, FSC scored four straight to make it a 23-20 score. The two teams traded sideouts, giving Florida Southern three set points at 24-21. This time it was the Blue and Gold who staved off all three set points, knotting the set at 24-24. FSC stopped the bleeding with a kill from Allie Geary to take a 25-24 lead, but Abdurakhmanova came up with a kill to tie it at 25. Anna Tovo’s kill then gave FSC its fifth set point; this time it was Ella Duggan who delivered the point to tie it at 26. Kayshia Brady scored the next point for FSC but Tovo followed with a service error, and so play continued tied at 27. Brady then scored kills on back-to-back points, giving FSC a 29-27 win and a 2-0 lead heading into the break.

The Mocs carried the momentum from the first two sets into the third, running out to a 13-6 lead.

Florida Southern maintained a comfortable lead until the latter stages of the frame when the Eagles’ Ashley Humphrey put down a ball that sparked a 4-0 run to bring the home team within a point at 20-19. FSC looked to regain control by scoring the next two points, but ERAU showed its resiliency, scoring four straight to take a 23-22 lead. After a Florida Southern sideout tied it at 23, Humphrey put down a kill and Tovo committed an error to clinch the set in ERAU’s favor, 25-23, sending the match to a fourth set.

In set four, it was the Blue and Gold that looked to be riding a wave of momentum as the Eagles pulled out to an early 15-6 advantage. Florida Southern cut the deficit to 15-10 with four straight points, but an Embry-Riddle timeout stopped the run and allowed the Blue and Gold to maintain a five-point cushion for the next 10 rallies. The Mocs made another push with ERAU leading 21-15, scoring five straight to cut it to a one-point lead (21-20). After three straight sideouts left the Eagles ahead, 23-21, Florida Southern scored three straight to take a 24-23 lead.

Rachel Mostert sent a ball into the net on match point, tying the set at 24 and giving ERAU the serve. Ferriera’s serve sailed wide, giving FSC another match point at 25-24. The Eagles continued to fight as Abdurakhmanova scored her 15th kill to tie it at 25. After a Brady kill gave FSC match point for the third time, Saunders delivered a big kill to extend the match once again. That would prove to be the final point of the match for Embry-Riddle as the Mocs got kills from Brady and Brindl Langley to clinch the match with a 28-26 win.

The Eagles hit the road for a midweek match at Rollins on Tuesday, Sept. 22. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. in Winter Park.