ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.- It was another historic night for the Florida SouthWestern State Volleyball program Tuesday night as the Buccaneers went on the road and earned their first win over a top 10 ranked opponent in program history as they controlled the pace in a 3-1 victory against #9 St. Petersburg to improve to 12-6 on the year.
The first set was a back and forth affair between the Bucs and the Titans as they traded points to 6-6 early on. A pair of Julia de Sa kills pushed the Bucs out in front by two and back to back blasts from Anna Leweling midway through the set stretched the FSW lead to 15-9. Just when it looked like the Bucs were in control, the Titans stormed back, going on a 7-1 run to tie the score at 16 in the blink of an eye. Three more kills from de Sa gave the Bucs the lead back and this time they didn't give it up, eventually finishing the Titans off 25-21 to grab a 1-0 lead in the match. De Sa led the Bucs attack in the first with seven kills as FSW hit .312 as a team with 15 kills and just five errors.
The second was nearly a mirror opposite script from the first early on as St. Petersburg jumped in front midway through, just to see the Bucs fire back and tie the score later on at 16 following a Titan hitting error. The teams went back and forth to 23-23 when another Leweling kill gave the Bucs a crack at set point. It didn't take them long to take advantage of the opportunity as Marina Alonso found Yasso Amin in the middle for a kill to give FSW a 25-23 win in the set and a 2-0 lead in the match. FSW hit .452 in the set, getting four kills each from Leweling, Amin, and Amanda Mendes.
St. Pete came out with their hair on fire with their backs to the wall in the third. The Titans jumped out to a 5-1 lead and after FSW drew back to within two at 9-7, St. Pete went on a 7-1 run to blow the game open at 16-8. The hole was too big for the Bucs to come out of as the Titans ended things at 25-12 to push the match to a fourth set. After two solid sets offensively, the final numbers in the third were not as pretty for FSW. The Bucs finished with just seven kills in the period while watching St. Pete hit .520 as a team with 16 kills and just three errors.
The fourth was a good one early on as neither side led by more than two points until FSW got a big block from Kianie Cummings and Alonso to take a 9-7 lead after 16 points. The Bucs continued to push, opening up a 14-9 lead midway through and holding a five point lead to 17-12. St. Pete drew back to within four, but FSW won a rally that included 22 touches to take a 20-15 lead and they never looked back from there. The Bucs dominated the final five points of the set, getting another big block from Cummings and Mendes to make it match point and then used a Titan hitting error to close it out at 25-15 to take the match 3-1. The Bucs offense was on fire in the fourth, finishing without a single hitting error on 23 attacks, hitting .565 as a team.
The Bucs finished the game with a .377 hitting mark, their highest since September 14th and their best of the season against their eight ranked opponents this season. Contributions came from all over the court, but de Sa again led the way with a match high 14 kills for FSW while Leweling finished with 13 and Mendes 10 in the win. Mendes also pulled up 10 digs for her second straight double-double. Alonso racked up 40 assists for the Bucs while Viktoria Ivanova paced the team with 11 digs. FSW had eight blocks as a team with Cummings, Amin, and Mendes each making their way in on four of them.
FSW wins their fourth straight to improve to 12-6 overall on the year and 2-2 in Suncoast Conference play. St. Petersburg falls to 9-3 overall and 2-2 in league action.
The Bucs will not have much time to celebrate their big win as they are back at it on Thursday when they head back up to the Tampa area to take on #15 Hillsborough in a 6 PM first serve.