NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Kennesaw State advanced to its first-ever Atlantic Sun Volleyball Championship Final with a four set victory over FGCU on Friday night at Allen Arena. The Owls will face the top-seeded Lipscomb Bisons in Saturday's Final.
Anaiah Boyer returned from injury to lead the Owls in kills with 18. Kelly Marcinek added 13, while All-Freshmen Team selection Sydni Shelton had 10 to give KSU three players in double-figures. A-Sun Freshman of the Year Amanda Carroll led all players with 22 kills for FGCU.
The opening set featured several lead changes and after FGCU scored the first four points of the match, neither team was able to pull away by a large margin. The Owls came back into the set and took a 17-14 lead, but the Eagles fought right back to tie the set at 19 and force KSU into a timeout. Marcinek delivered the final two kills of the set to give the Owls the early advantage 1-0.
The Eagles responded in the second set as they took control early on and never let Kennesaw State grab any momentum. FGCU built an early lead with 3-0 runs to push the lead to 13-6. Carroll led the attack with six kills in the second set alone. Leigh Pudwill closed out the set with her seventh kill of the match 25-17 in favor of the Eagles.
In the third set, both teams battled from start to finish with neither team able to get a large lead. Kennesaw State secured the set 25-23 after 16 ties and nine lead changes in the third frame alone. Two attack errors by the Eagles were the deciding factor in lifting the Owls to a 2-1 lead in the match and one set away from a Championship Final appearance. After three sets, Anaiah Boyer and Kelly Marcinek had registered a combined 21 kills to lead the Owl attack.
That momentum carried over into the fourth set as the Owls jumped out on top 6-2 to force a timeout by FGCU. After the Eagles climbed back into the set at 9-9, KSU responded once again with a 4-0 run to increase the lead to 13-9. The Owls extended their lead to 19-13, but the Eagles would not go quietly in this Semifinal. They closed the gap to 22-20 before Boyer and Marcinek got the final two kills to secure the 25-21 victory.
Kennesaw State now faces Lipscomb in Saturday's A-Sun Championship Final. The match begins at 3 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on ESPN3. The winner will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
FGCU vs. Kennesaw State Championship Notes:
- The Owls have won two matches in the 2015 A-Sun Championship after being 0-4 combined in previous postseason appearances.
- Anaiah Boyer didn't play the first match, but returned to lead the Owls with 18 kills. It marks the sixth time this season she reached that mark. The Owls are 5-1 in those matches.
- Kennesaw State was the only team this season to win a match in conference play against Lipscomb. They split the regular season series 1-1. This will be the second matchup between the two squads in A-Sun Championship history.
- Amanda Carroll was the most consistent hitter for the Eagles all season long. She reached 20 or more kills for the third time tonight in her freshman campaign.