TAMPA, Fla.- A young Florida SouthWestern State squad went on the road into a tough environment Thursday in Tampa and battled #15 Hillsborough tooth and nail, but in the end came up just short in a 3-1 loss to the Hawks to snap a four game win streak.
The Bucs got off to a dreadful start in the first, falling behind 4-0 and then 10-1 to the 15th ranked Lady Hawks. They eventually battled back, making it a four point game midway through the set at 15-11, but in the end, they couldn't dig all the way out of the early hole as they fell 25-16 and Hillsborough took a 1-0 lead. The Bucs offense was non-existent in the first, managing just five kills, their lowest in a set all season. Hillsborough on the other hand had 16, hitting .333 in the set.
The second was much righter early on with the teams splitting the first 18 points at nine a side. A pair of kills from Kianie Cummings out of the middle broke the deadlock and put FSW on top 11-9 and they held that advantage to 17-15 when a Hawk error made it a three point game at 18-15. It remained a three point difference at 22-19 when the Bucs stepped on the gas one last time, using a pair of Hillsborough errors and a kill from Anna Leweling to take the set 25-19 and even the match at 1-1. After a slow start on offense, the Bucs came back to life in the second, hammering down 17 kills and hitting .368 as a team, led by Julia de Sa and Leweling who combined for nine kills and no errors in the set.
It was another slow start for FSW in the third as Hillsborough raced out to a 9-4 lead on the Purple and Aqua. This time the Bucs were able to come back though, closing the gap to just one midway through on another kill from Leweling. But just when the Bucs got back into it, a 6-2 run by the Hawks opened their lead back to five at 20-15 and again FSW ran out of time late as Hillsborough took the set 25-18 to take a 2-1 lead in the contest. The Bucs couldn't slow down the Hawk attack in the third as Hillsborough hit an even .500 with 13 kills and no errors on 26 attacks in the period.
The fourth followed the script of the second out of the gates as after 14 points neither side had an advantage with the score 7-7. Hillsborough scored the next six points though, opening up a 13-7 cushion and FSW looked in trouble with their backs to the wall. The Lady Hawks left the Bucs for dead at 21-14, but FSW wasn't ready to quit just yet as they stormed back behind captain Julia de Sa, outscoring Hillsborough 7-1 over the next eight points to cut the Hawk lead to just one at 22-21. With the match on the line at 24-23, Yasso Amin and Marina Alonso combined on a huge block, drawing the Bucs back to even at 24-24 to silence a raucous HCC crowd. An FSW attack into the net gave Hillsborough their third crack at match point, but again the Bucs answered with a kill from Amin to tie the score at 25. A key service error by the Bucs broke the tie and the Hawks sealed the deal this time as an FSW error gave them a 27-25 win in the fourth to take the match 3-1.
FSW was led in the defeat by de Sa with 17 kills while Leweling and Mendes added 12 and 11 respectively. Alonso recorded assists on 43 of the Bucs 49 kills in the contest while Viktoria Ivanova paced the FSW backline with 17 digs. The Bucs finished with just five blocks as a team with Cummings and Alonso each in on three.
The Bucs see their four game winning streak snapped as they fall to 12-7 overall and 2-3 in Suncoast Conference play. Hillsborough clinches the Suncoast Conference Championship as they remain unbeaten at 5-0 and improve to 21-4 overall on the year.
FSW has just one game remaining on their 2019 regular season schedule as they return home to Suncoast Credit Union Arena on Tuesday, October 15th where they will take on State College of Florida in a 6 PM first serve. Prior to the match, the Bucs will honor their first two graduating sophomores, Marina Alonso and Amy Barley who will be playing in their final home contest with FSW Tuesday.