Francis Marion University played host to the Peach Belt Conference Women’s Volleyball tournament for the third time in school history where the third-seed Lady Patriots were upset by the sixth-seed USC Aiken Pacers in five sets.
The Pacers committed many errors early on in the first set which led to a scoring run by the lady Patriots. The Patriots crushed the Pacers in the first set 25-14, but the Pacers came out fighting to win the second set and tie the match at one set a piece.
The Patriots surged late in the third set to attain their second win of the match, giving them a 2-1 set lead.
USC Aiken allowed early mistakes in the fourth set giving the Patriots a strong lead. It was only a temporary however, as the Pacers would come back to win the set 25-18 tying the match at 2-2. The Patriots started the fifth set down 1-7, but rallied back to tie the set at 8-8. FMU wouldn’t score another point in the match, as a Pacers scoring run would lead USC Aiken to a 15-8 win in the fifth set bringing an abrupt end to the Patriots hopes of a playoff run.
Jessica Imbimbo, a senior majoring in mass communications, was disappointed in the team’s loss.
“Our team is a lot better than what we put out on the court,” Imbimbo said. “We came into the game feeling like we had already won. It is not bad to be confident, but I don’t think it helped our cause against Aiken.”
Megan Mooney, a senior majoring in marketing, is the middle blocker for the Patriots.
“I believe we played hard and gave it our all, but our downfall was the opposition was much smarter and knew how to exploit our weaknesses,” Mooney said.
Despite the loss, Coach MacDonald was very proud of the way the Patriots performed.
“The effort and urgency were both there. I was proud of the effort; we wish the result had been more to our liking,” McDonald said.
Rebekah Davis is the junior libero for the Patriots this season. She recorded 30 digs over the course of the entire match. Coach MacDonald was very impressed with her this year.
“Rebekah Davis was a huge asset this year and stepped up as a libero on our team. She really got the job done on defense,” MacDonald said.
Junior setter Sloane Shank stepped in for senior setter Kailey Smith after Smith’s concussion.
Patriot’s senior opposite hitter Jessica Imbimbo held Shank and the rest of her team in high regard.
“Sloan had not played very much throughout the year and stepped in for Kailey. She had to step in at a crucial time and had to perform. Caroline Boone performed really well in one of the most crucial games of her career. Each person stepped up when the team needed them,” Imbimbo said.
The Patriots finished the season with a record of 21-9.
Despite the Patriots loss in the quarterfinals, three members of the volleyball team were named all-conference players. The players named second team all-conference were Kailey Smith, Jessica Imbimbo and Emily Sears.
The Patriots will enter next season losing four seniors: Jessica Imbimbo, Paige Perreault, Megan Mooney and Kailey Smith. This spring, Coach MacDonald hopes to sign new players to fill the void left by the seniors.
“I believe we return a good core of girls that can help us find success next year. We signed one recruit in November, a setter from Delaware. Her team has won two state championships with her as setter,” MacDonald said.
With the addition of a new setter, coach MacDonald hopes to bring the Patriots back to the playoffs again next year.