After a devastating close loss at conference foe Jacksonville, the Mercer Bears volleyball team experienced a 2-3 stretch to begin October. The Bears are now 7-15 overall and 1-5 in Atlantic Sun play. There are several matches left, but the 1-5 conference record has the Bears ninth in the Atlantic Sun as of Oct. 14. One thing in the favor of the Bears’ postseason aspirations is that Mercer has no more matches against the two best teams in the conference: Lipscomb and Belmont.
Head coach Noelle Rooke is looking to the future as well. Speaking with the Mercer Bears’ Athletics website, Coach Rooke said, “All we are going to do is keep plugging away because there are a lot of conference matches left.”
North Florida 3, Mercer 1
The Bears finished a trip to the state of Florida as October began with a close loss to the North Florida Ospreys. The Bears won the first set, but then dropped the final three (17-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-23). This was the second straight loss for the Bears. Three Bears did reach double figures in kills in the close match however, spurring the close results as the match ended. Jennifer Katona had 13 kills, and both Anna Coursey and Amiee Frutchey had 10 apiece. This was the sixth time this season Katona had double digit kills. Madeline Dolny had 23 assists and 11 digs for her fourth double-double of the year. Jamie Duffy led the team with 17 digs. It was a closely fought match, with the third and fourth sets having late drama that finished the game off.
FGCU 3, Mercer 2
The first match of Mercer’s first homestand in October ended in the Bears’ third straight loss overall and fifth in conference play. Florida Gulf Coast (FGCU) played well down the stretch, winning the decisive fifth set after twice letting Mercer tie the match up (25-19, 20-25, 25-21, 16-25, 15-12). Madeline Dolny kept the Bears alive with her 49 assists and 12 digs over the five sets, and Amiee Frutchey racked up 17 kills and 13 digs. Dolny’s 49 assists were the most for any Mercer Bear in nearly four years. Libero Charlotte Harris had 15 digs to add to her impressive tally. Overall, the match was more dramatic than the heartbreak against North Florida, for there were 18 ties and six lead changes as well as Mercer tying the match up after the second and fourth sets. The fifth set was tied at 12 before an Eagle 3-0 run ended it. It was a difficult loss on Youth Volleyball Night.
Mercer 3, Stetson 1
In Mercer’s Dig Pink Event, the Bears recorded their first win of the year in Atlantic Sun play versus the Stetson Hatters. The Bears did not have much trouble finishing the Hatters off late as they won 25-13, 20-25, 26-24, 25-13. Jennifer Katona’s 16 kills led the Bears. Madeline Dolny had 39 assists and nine digs, giving her 88 assists on the weekend. Charlotte Harris continued to chase history in the record books with 25 digs. The Bears hit, assisted, dug, killed and blocked better than the Hatters, leading to their first win.
Florida A&M 3, Mercer 2
After a great first set, the Bears fell to the Rattlers of Florida A&M in five sets in Tallahassee. Amiee Frutchey had 22 kills and just four errors. Madeline Dolny continued her ridiculous pace, for she racked up 52 assists and nine digs. The Bears were close early in the fifth set, but a 6-0 run by the Rattlers ended any hope of a comeback. Florida A&M was able to withstand an impressive day by the Bears’ leaders as they avenged a 3-1 loss in Macon one month ago. The Rattlers won 10-25, 25-15, 25-20, 26-28, 15-9.
Mercer 3, Savannah State 0
The Mercer Bears rebounded well from the tough loss in Tallahassee by blanking Savannah State on the road 25-12, 25-10, 25-10. Savannah State fell to 0-17 on the year. Madeline Dolny added 19 assists, but the Mercer reserves and backups were able to get a lot more playing time. Cassie Roy had nine kills and 11 digs, and Zoe Becton and Codi Schepp each had four kills. Becton added a pair of aces, and Schepp had seven digs.