FORT MYERS, Fla.- Amanda Mendes recorded her first career double-double and Julia de Sa hammered home a game high 17 kills as the Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers rolled past the visiting Palm Beach State Panthers 3-1 Saturday afternoon at Suncoast Credit Union Arena.
The Bucs came out ready to go in the first, going on an 11-3 run early on to take a commanding 16-6 lead midway through the set. A kill from Kianie Cummings in the middle pushed the FSW lead to 11 and an out of system smashed from Amanda Mendes finished the Panthers off in the first 25-12 to give the Bucs a 1-0 lead.
The second was all FSW again. The Bucs rushed out to a 4-0 lead highlighted by back to back kills from Lexi Hurtado and quickly pushed their lead to 14-9 midway through the set on Mendes' seventh kill of the match. Palm Beach cut it back to a three point game at 14-11, but FSW scored the next six on six straight kills from four different players to open their lead to 20-11. For the second straight set, it was Mendes finishing things off for the Bucs with a kill to give them the set 25-16 and a 2-0 lead in the match. The Bucs offense was on fire in the second, registering a season high 20 kills in the set, getting a combined 16 kills and just one error from the combo of Mendes, de Sa, and Hurtado in the period.
The Bucs made some changes to their lineup in the third and it cost them. They played even with the Panthers early on and even led 20-17 late in the set, but a 6-0 run by Palm Beach, helped by four FSW errors, allowed the Panthers to take a 23-17 advantage. The Bucs made a late push to get it to 24-23, but Palm Beach closed with a kill to take the set 25-23 and extend the match to a fourth set. The Bucs had 15 kills in the set, but gave away nine points via hitting errors to allow the Panthers to push the match to a fourth set.
The fourth was again close through the first 20 points, but FSW stepped on the gas from there, getting a pair of kills from Julia de Sa to take a 14-8 lead and then cushioned their lead to eight at 18-10 on a Marina Alonso to Anna Leweling hook up. Two finishes in the middle from Yasso Amin gave the Bucs multiple cracks at match point, but they only needed two as de Sa found a hole in the Panther defense for her 17th kill of the match to close out a 25-15 win for the Bucs to give them the match 3-1. De Sa came up big when the Bucs needed her most with five kills and no errors in the set to lead FSW to a .276 hitting mark in the period.
Mendes recorded her first career double-double with 12 kills and a career high 17 digs for FSW while de Sa recorded a match high 17 digs for the Bucs. Cummings and Amin were solid in the middle for the Purple and Aqua, combining for 16 kills and just one error in 23 attacks to hit an eye popping .652 together. Alonso picked up 44 assists for FSW while Viktoria Ivanova led the Bucs with 20 digs in the win.
FSW wins their third straight to improve to 11-6 on the year, Palm Beach falls to 4-12 in the defeat.
The Bucs begin the stretch run in their inaugural Suncoast Conference campaign on Tuesday when they head back out on the road to take on #11 St. Petersburg followed by a trip back up to the Tampa area Thursday to battle #15 Hillsborough.