A historic season for the Kennesaw State University volleyball team was cut short Nov. 18 when Florida Gulf Coast University defeated the Owls 3-2.
After securing a share of the ASUN Title the previous week, KSU was outlasted by the Eagles in a five-set match by pulling out the final set with a score of 15-11.
“We had a chance in the fourth to finish them off, but we didn’t close ,and then we got a decent lead early in the fifth,” Schunzel said.
The Owls jumped to a 4-1 lead in the fifth set, but a rally by FGCU put the Eagles up 5-4. KSU continued to struggle and fell behind 11-9, taking its final timeout but failing to retake the lead.
“This one is going to hurt for a long time,” KSU head coach Keith Schunzel said. “Our players and staff put their hearts and souls into this team day in and day out and do an incredible job of making Kennesaw State volleyball what it is.”
Junior outside hitter Anaiah Boyer led KSU with 15 kills in the match, followed by sophomore outside hitter Sydni Shelton with 11 kills. Sophomore middle blocker Liesl Engelbrecht and senior opposite hitter Kelly Marcinek each finished with matching stat lines of eight kills and three blocks.
The team as a whole, unfortunately, recorded 34 errors with Boyer and Marcinek each recording eight errors. FGCU also recorded 30 of its own.
In regards to games that have gone to five sets this season, this loss brings KSU to 3-5, further emphasizing Schunzel’s point of needing to close out the match against FGCU.
Despite the tough loss, the future for the volleyball program looks bright. Four returning players received All-ASUN Conference honors, including Boyer, Katrina Morton, and junior setter Kristi Piedimonte all voted to the First Team All-Conference. Engelbrecht was also voted second-team All-Conference.
“This was another record-breaking year for us, and when the dust settles, I hope everyone will be incredibly proud of what we achieved because I know that I am,” Schunzel said. “I’ll always remember the tenacity of this group, the belief that these women carried with them, and the way that this team matured in the past year.”
Morton won ASUN Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in KSU history after recording 540 digs for the season, and she ranked 26th nationally in digs.
Boyer also made history by being the first player to make it onto the All-Conference Team twice in a career. In one stretch of the season, she was named ASUN Player of the Week for three straight weeks, and then followed it up with a Defensive Player of the Week as well. She finished her season with 376 kills, 266 digs and 17 block shots.
Piedimonte came in second in the conference in assists after recording 1,155, which ranks 31st nationally. She also passed the 3,000 assist mark for her career and became the second player in KSU history to pass this benchmark. Piedimonte was also named to the ASUN’s All-Academic team.
The team as a whole broke the single-season record for service aces, which was 149 and is now 155.