PANAMA CITY, Fla. (September 17, 2015) - Gulf Coast State College's volleyball team hosted Military Appreciation Night on Wednesday when it opened Panhandle Conference play against Pensacola State College.
Match recap is courtesy of the Panama City News Herald.
Gulf Coast tops Pensacola 3-1 in conference opener
By DUSTIN KENT
September 16. 2015 9:05PM
PANAMA CITY — After dropping the first six matches of the season, Gulf Coast volleyball coach Kyle Peck said a bit of doubt might have crept into the heads of his younger players about where the team might be headed.
After Wednesday’s four-set victory over Pensacola State, the coach will likely have a hard time finding any non-believers in his locker room.
The Lady Commodores won their Panhandle Conference opener 27-25, 20-25, 25-21, 25-21 to improve to 6-8 on the season, while the Lady Pirates dropped to 10-6.
“It is a really big win,” Peck said. “I know Pensacola had a little bit of early success, but we’ve been playing a lot of really difficult teams. While we’ve been playing well and scoring a lot of points, we haven’t been getting the wins, so the record is a little deceiving. We had some common opponents with Pensacola and based on that I thought it would be a pretty even match and I think we saw tonight a pretty even match.”
All four sets were tightly contested, with Gulf Coast squandering three set points and fighting off another to take the first set after back to back aces by Jordan Rayburn.
Pensacola State raced out to a 7-1 lead in the second set, but Gulf Coast fought back to tie it up 10-10 and again at 19-19 before the Lady Pirates closed it out with an ace by Marigrace Holt.
The Lady Commodores controlled much of the third set, going up 7-6 on a kill by Mackenzie Chambers and never relinquishing the lead. Ahead 23-21 with Pensacola serving, Taylor Sauer came up with a kill to give Gulf Coast game point, and Jessica Fabian put the final ball away after a serve by Brooklynn Roberts.
Gulf Coast trailed 13-8 in the fourth before a kill by Sauer sparked a 7-1 run by the Lady Commodores, as Sauer added two more kills during the spurt and a Roberts ace put GulfCoast in front 15-14.
The Lady Pirates regained the edge 17-15, but Sauer came up with a kill and then ran off six straight serves to grab control of the set. Jessica Fabian had back to back big plays for the Lady Commodores, following a block with a kill to put them up 19-17.
Consecutive kills by Rayburn and another block by Fabian made it 22-17 Gulf Coast. A kill by Christina Strange and an attacking error by Gulf Coast got the Lady Pirates to within two at 23-21.
But a kill by Chambers gave the Lady Commodores match point and Rayburn put the final ball away to give Gulf Coast the victory.
“I think we played almost to our full capability,” Peck said. “Our passing was a little off, but we overcame that with strong serving and great defensive intensity.”
Sauer led Gulf Coast with 17 kills and added two aces, while Rayburn added 13 kills, seven digs, and two aces. Chambers had seven kills and Tessa Morken had a team-high 13 digs.
Delia Morin led the Lady Commodores with 42 assists and added seven digs and two aces. Roberts had five kills, 10 digs, and three aces.
Shantel Williams had 15 kills to lead Pensacola State, with Strange adding 12 kills and a block. Kaitlin Grote had 21 assists and Taylor Casper 16 digs.
The second of the five potential meetings between the teams will take place Oct. 1 in Pensacola.
The first team to win three matches between the two gets to go to the state tournament.
With Gulf Coast scheduled to host two of the final four matches, Peck said winning the first at home was very important for his club.
“We definitely wanted to win on our home floor and keep the home court advantage,” he said. “I’m just really happy with the way we fought. It may have looked like we played really well, but we struggled. We had to fight and scratch and claw for this victory. I’m very proud of the heart we showed.”