FORT MYERS, Fla.- The Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers used a well-rounded effort Friday night in Suncoast Credit Union Arena to sweep the visiting Indian River Pioneers 3-0 and earn a key late season victory in their push for their first postseason berth.
In a matchup of two teams with nearly identical records in 2019, the Bucs and Pioneers were evenly matched early on, with neither team leading by more than two points through the first 32 where they found themselves tied at 16. A kill from Julia de Sa broke the deadlock and a blast behind that from Yasso Amin pushed FSW ahead by two before an ace off the right hand of Anna Leweling gave the Bucs their largest lead of the set at 19-16. The Bucs held that three point lead to 22-19 and stretched it to four at 24-20 on a kill from Kianie Cummings to give them their first set point of the match. It didn't take long for the Bucs to close it out as on their first opportunity, Amanda Mendes picked up a kill off the block to give FSW the set 25-20 and a 1-0 lead in the match. The Bucs hit .343 in the first, finishing with 16 kills and just four errors. They also took care of business in serve receive, siding out on 70% of their opportunities in the period.
The second followed nearly the same script as midway through the set, the score was tie at 14 with an early three point lead by the Bucs the largest gap to that point in the period. This time though, it was Indian River taking a 17-15 lead as they looked like they had momentum heading into an FSW timeout. The Bucs got a quick sideout out of the break and Marina Alonso found de Sa for the second straight time for a kill to even things back up at 17. The teams traded points to 21-21 when a kill out of the middle from Amin followed by a block from her and Lexi Hurtado gave FSW a two point cushion at 23-21. Amin continued her spirited play with her third kill of the set to give the Bucs two cracks at set point and after an Indian River point to get them back to within one, she finished off the Pioneers with yet another bullet to give the Bucs the set 25-23 and a 2-0 lead in the match. The Bucs block came up big in the second, registering five rejections, Cummings was in on four of those with Hurtado combining on three.
The intermission looked to have slowed the Bucs momentum early in the third as the Pioneers got out to a 5-2 lead thanks to four early faux pas by FSW. An Indian River attack error gave the Bucs the ball back and with Viktoria Ivanova at the service line, they wouldn't give it back for a while. FSW scored the next eight points, turning a three point deficit into a five point lead in the blink of an eye. Then after a Pioneer sideout, the Bucs were back at it again, this time with Giovanna Bello serving for them. Bello's short serve threw the Pioneers out of system and the Bucs took advantage by scoring six straight, extending their lead to 16-6. FSW continued to pile on, eventually pushing their lead to 23-9 on an ace from Amy Barley and then putting Indian River out of their misery with a kill from de Sa to win it 25-10 and finish off the sweep.
FSW finished the match hitting .301 as a team, its best mark since September 14th in a win over Eastern Florida. De Sa led a well-balanced attack for the Bucs with nine kills. Amin finished with a career best eight kills on 11 attacks, hitting .636 while Mendes chipped in seven kills and Anna Leweling five. Alonso dished out assists on 34 of the Bucs 36 kills on the night. Ivanova led FSW with 15 digs while de Sa added 11. The Bucs had nine blocks as a team with Cummings pacing the club with seven and Mendes four for the victors.
The Bucs improve to 10-6 overall with the win and take another key cross conference match against the Southern Conference's Pioneers. Indian River falls to 10-7 on the year.
FSW will be right back at it Saturday afternoon as they take on Palm Beach State in a noon matinee in Suncoast Credit Union Arena.