Janelle Johnson/ERAU Athletics
The Embry-Riddle volleyball team opened its Sunshine State Conference schedule on Friday night, facing Florida Tech. The Eagles handled the visiting Panthers, defeating them in four sets (25-14, 25-17, 21-25, 25-23) to maintain a perfect 8-0 record this year.
“Tonight we learned that in this conference there’s not going to be any easy matches,” Head Coach Joslynn Gallop said after the win. “Everyone is competitive and we can’t afford to take any mental breaks, so that is something that we can work on moving forward.”
The Eagles finished the match with 45 kills. Evelina Abdurakhmanova contributed a team-high 15 kills to go along with 11 digs, while Ana Pajic had 14 kills and 10 digs. Ella Duggan was once again a factor up front with six blocks (three solo). Tamires Ferreira added 37 assists and 17 digs in the match. Libero Sumerr Paxton picked up a match-best 21 digs.
In the first set, the Eagles were dominant in all facets. Embry-Riddle limited the Panthers to a -.053 attack percentage while racking up 11 kills and five blocks en route to a 25-14 win.
The second set was a closer affair until the Eagles drew out a lead on a 6-1 run (9-4). The Panthers were able to counter and recover to come within two but the Eagles again went on a 6-1 run to take out a seven-point lead (18-11). In the stretch, Ella Duggan had a killer block that gave the Blue and Gold the momentum for the remainder of the set. The Eagles won it, 25-17.
Set three went back-and-forth with the Eagles leading by two and three points multiple times, only to have the Panthers rally back to tie.
Florida Tech took the lead after both teams were tied at 20 and never looked back. FIT won the set, 25-21, thanks to Jenna Schaffer’s eighth kill of the night.
The fourth set saw more close action until Embry-Riddle was able to pull away. The Eagles scored five straight points following two service aces from Madison Lord to lead 15-9. FIT trailed by six points through the rest of the set until ERAU needed just one to win the match.
The Panthers then rallied for four straight points to nearly spoil the Eagles’ win but a kill from Pajic sealed the deal, as ERAU won the set, 25-23, and the match, 3-1.