JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Key contributions off the bench, a memorable performance from sophomore Devyn Wheelerand a stifling defense at the net combined to lift the Ospreys over the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, 3-2, at the UNF Arena Monday, September 10.
"We made a pretty unique lineup switch that really paid off," head coach Kristen Wright said. "Devyn Wheeler was my player of the game, she played out of her mind."
Wheeler's night included 21 kills, one shy of her career high, and 11 total blocks, etching her in as tied-for-second all-time in blocks for five-set matches. UNF (3-8) had 16 total blocks as a unit, tied-for-third in North Florida single-match history for five setters.
UNF 3, North Dakota 2 (25-27, 30-28, 21-25, 25-20, 15-8) | Box Score (PDF)
Behind the Box Score
- The Fighting Hawks (5-6) caught wind late to steal the first set in what was an anomalous outcome considering UNF hit .105 points better, and with five fewer errors. North Dakota was able to muster 10 more attack attempts, winning by attrition after erasing a 16-11 deficit.
- Set two transpired in largely the same manner, but UNF stood ground for a crucial, 30-28, win. Wheeler and Alana Shoff created a 19-15 lead with consecutive block assists, but a smattering of a bad set, two kills and an attack error brough UND to a tie at 24-24.
- Freshman Lexi Randolph came off the bench and provided a jolt of energy with back-to-back digs, helping incite the late run. With its back against the wall of a 2-0 deficit, UNF rallied for three consecutive points, capping the set off fittingly by a Wheeler kill.
- North Dakota played its best ball in the third set, hitting a team-high .256 while posting four blocks.
- Sophomore Emma Dixon and Wheeler notched back-to-back kills to aid in an early 3-0 lead that North Florida would never relinquish. A .343 hitting percentage and four blocks carried UNF to a 2-2 tie after two-straight block assists from Wheeler and junior Taryn Griffey sealed the set.
- North Florida stayed strong in the decisive set, with Wheeler providing the backbone via four kills. North Dakota hit only .045, Griffey and senior Asante Lopez dropped in an ace each and Dixon came up with help in two key blocks.
Leaders By the Numbers
- Wheeler | 21 kills, 11 blocks (career high; previous was five)
- Gabby O'Connell | 18 kills, 15 digs
- Solimar Cestero | 11 kills, two blocks
- Griffey | 11 kills, seven blocks
- Lopez | 21 digs
- Madilyn McCarty | 34 assists, 14 digs
- Kaileen Herman | 24 assists (season high)
Other Points of Interests
- UNF had 72 kills, its most this season. The Ospreys also lead the ASUN in kills.
- The Ospreys led in hitting percentage. All of their wins this season have come when doing so.
- The Ospreys also set season highs in digs (88) and blocks (16). They have 49 blocks over the past four contests.
- Three players had double-doubles and four had double-digits in kills. McCarty has posted a double-double in each of her last four.
- Herman came in during the second set and provided a boost, dishing out 19 of her 24 assists between sets two and three.
- "Kaileen Herman came in and helped make a big shift in momentum for us to win set two. It was really just a combined team effort."
- UND's Kayla Williams led all players with 22 kills.
- North Dakota is no pushover, finishing 30-8 last year while being selected to finish second in the Summit League this season.
"We've been in this position a lot this year and have been challenged, so I think that we were comfortable and just approached it [the five-set match] differently," head coach Kristen Wright said. "We were calm and trusted that we had what it took, and it paid off."
The last regular-season tournament is set for this weekend as the Ospreys go to Boca Raton for the Owls Classic hosted by Florida Atlantic Friday, September 14 to Saturday, September 15. UNF takes on San Jose State and South Dakota State on Saturday before clashing with FAU on Saturday.