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GS volleyball splits first two matches of season

FT. MYERS, Fla. – Lauren Reichard tallied 30 kills and 11 blocks as Georgia Southern split a pair of volleyball matches at the FGCU Hilton Garden Inn Invitational Friday. The Eagles topped FIU 3-0 (26-24, 26-24, 25-19) and fell 3-1 to IUPUI (25-20, 25-27, 25-20, 25-21).
Cathrine Murray added 22 kills and 15 digs on the day, and Anna Wenger posted 16 kills. April Luther tallied 80 assists, 15 digs and six blocks in the two matches, and Joscelin Morrow finished with 44 digs.
Reichard led Georgia Southern with 12 kills and seven blocks, Luther posted 35 assists and seven digs and Morrow notched 20 digs.
Georgia Southern built an 11-4 lead in the first set but had to fend off the Panthers. FIU opened a 22-19 advantage before the Eagles ran of three straight, sparked by a block by Wenger and Skylar Ball. With the score tied 24-24, Wenger put down a ball and the Eagles took the set after an error by FIU.
The second set went down to the wire as well with neither team leading by more than three points in the frame. GS overcame another late deficit with three straight points and fought off a set point to tie the score 24-24. Brooke Birch served up an ace for set point for the Eagles, and GS took the 2-0 lead in the match on a FIU error.
Reichard tallied a career-high 18 kills and added four blocks, and Murray registered 15 kills and nine digs. Morrow posted 24 digs, three assists and a pair of aces.
IUPUI held the Eagles to a .142 hitting percentage for the match, and GS hit under .100 in each of the final two sets. After dropping the first set 25-20, GS overcame a five-point deficit and fought off two set points to win the second frame 27-25.  With the score tied 25-25, Wenger got a kill, and Landon Jones served up an ace to tie the match 1-1.
A 7-1 run in the third set gave IUPUI the breathing room they needed to go ahead 2-1 in the match, and the Jags won five straight points to break a 17-17 tie in the fourth.
“I loved the way we focused and prepared today for the match vs. FIU. We had a great warm up, and we could see the kids were focused. There was some rust, but that's expected in our first match. We started out fast in each set, which is one of our goals as a program. We found a way to score big points in pressure situations to come out on top of the first two sets, and I am proud of the team for finishing strong in the third to put them away.”
“We came out a little flat, and we hung in there in the second match. IUPUI did a great job of exposing some weaknesses. We had an opportunity to get the match to the fifth but ran out of steam. We struggled in the setting game tonight, and offensive timing was an issue for us. The kids fought hard but lacked execution.”
“Lauren Reichard was great today. They couldn't stop her. She has brought her game to another level. Brooke Birch passed and played defense well for us, and Joscelin made the most of her first collegiate start and put up big dig numbers. Our two freshmen, Landon and Skyler produced and helped the team win. I’m proud of our staff and how they are working with these players. You see the players getting better each day with them, and the program took a good step in the right direction for our journey in the 2017 season.”
“We know what we need to do tomorrow, and the players are looking to fix the execution that wasn't there tonight. I’m proud of this team and the leadership they are showing. It's a great locker room, and we know these kids our bought in to our program.”
The Eagles take on tourney host Florida Gulf Coast Saturday at 11 a.m.
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