OCALA, Fla.- Florida SouthWestern State Head Coach Thais Baziquetto-Allen couldn't have drawn up a much better script on day one of the 2019 Volleyball season as her Buccaneers swept their way to a pair of victories at the Central Florida Invitational to earn the first two wins in program history.
With 13 freshmen on their opening day roster, the Bucs showed some jitters right off the bat in their first match Friday, falling behind DII #16 Pasco-Hernando 6-1 to get things going. Trailing 12-6 midway through the first set, the Bucs found their groove with Viktoria Ivanova at the service line as FSW rolled off 12 in a row, including a pair of aces by their libero to turn a six point deficit into a six point lead at 18-12. The Bucs were never threatened again and Amanda Mendes finished the Bobcats off with an ace to give FSW a 25-17 victory, their first set victory in program history.
The Bucs hit .458 in the first set, getting multiple kills from all five of their hitters that had a swing in the period.
The Purple and Aqua carried the momentum right into the second set, jumping out to a 7-2 lead behind strong play on the outside from Lexi Hurtado and Julia de Sa. Pasco fought back, cutting the Bucs lead to just two at 12-10 after an ace midway through the set. A kill from Laura Ferrao got FSW back on track and they pushed the lead back to six moments later following a 6-2 run. Two straight kills from Kianie Cummings later on kept the Bucs up by six at 21-15 and she finished the 'Cats off with her third kill of the set as FSW took a 2-0 lead in the match with a 25-20 victory in the second.
Pasco again had no answer for the Bucs offense in the second set as FSW hit .483 as a team, getting eight kills on 12 swings from de Sa and Hurtado while Cummings and Ferrao each had three kills for the victors as well.
The third began nearly exactly as the second did, with FSW jumping out to a 6-2 lead on the Bobcats. The Bucs hit a rough stretch though and allowed Pasco to get all the way back to within one at 8-7. With Mendes at the service line for the Bucs, FSW rolled off five in a row to stretch their lead back out to 14-8 before a kill from Anna Leweling pushed the lead to its largest of the set at 19-10 as the Bucs looked to finish off the sweep. A blast from Mendes got the Bucs to match point and a huge block from Ferrao and Mendes finished it off for FSW as they took the set 25-13 and the match 3-0, the Bucs first win in program history.
The Bucs hit .375 in the match, getting a team high nine kills from Hurtado and six each from Mendes and Leweling. Marina Alonso dished out a match high 22 assists for the Purple and Aqua while Ferrao and Mendes led the Bucs with seven and six blocks respectively.
Hurtado got the Bucs going again in their second match of the day against Florida Gateway, banging a rocket down the line to get FSW out to a 6-1 lead on the Timberwolves. The Bucs continued to push, extending their lead all the way out to 16-3 after an ace from Mendes. A 5-0 run by Gateway got the 'Wolves somewhat back on track, but it was far too little, too late as FSW finished off the first 25-15 to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
De Sa paced the Bucs with five first set kills as FSW hit .310 as a team in the period.
It was all FSW again early in the second set as the Bucs raced out to a 6-0 lead and never looked back. Another kill from de Sa padded their lead to 12-5 midway through the second and they kept a seven point advantage to 16-9. The teams traded points to 24-17 before Leweling ended the set with a cross court rip to give the Bucs the second and a 2-0 lead in the match.
Baziquetto-Allen moved the lineup around in the third set and it took a while for the Bucs to click as they found themselves in their first deficit of the match at 9-6 following a pair of early errors. After a Gateway error tied things up at 12 midway through, the Bucs got three straight points with Amy Barley at the service line to retake the lead at 15-12. Later in the set another block from Ferrao and Mendes pushed the Bucs lead to four at 21-17. With the match on the line, the Bucs turned back to de Sa who crushed her 14th kill of the contest to seal it up for the Purple and Aqua as FSW took the set 25-20 and the match 3-0.
FSW hit .407 in the third set and .354 overall in the match. De Sa finished the match with 14 kills and just one error on 23 swings, hitting .565. Cummings was equally as impressive in the middle, putting away eight kills without an error on 12 attacks, good for a .667 hitting percentage in the win. Mendes also put together a solid effort, coming away with seven kills on 15 swings to hit .400 for the Bucs. She also led FSW with three aces. Ivanova paced FSW with 16 digs, the same number of assists that Alonso led the Bucs with in the victory.
The Bucs finish their first day of competition a perfect 2-0, winning all six sets played.
The competition will amp up for FSW on day two of the tournament as they will go head to head with 2018 National Runners-up Miami Dade at noon followed by a battle with the host Central Florida Patriots at 2 PM.