Bucs Sweep Key Conference Clash With #5 Miami Dade

Barbara Koehler (Photo by Brad Young/BradYoungPhoto.com)
Barbara Koehler (Photo by Brad Young/BradYoungPhoto.com)
MIAMI, Fla.- With both teams firing on all cylinders in a matchup of the top two teams in the Suncoast Conference, the #1 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers and #5 Miami Dade Sharks played a thriller in Miami Tuesday night.  FSW fought off three set points for the Sharks in the first to come back to win it 27-25 and won another tight one in the second 26-24 to go ahead 2-0 in the match. Miami Dade looked like they had captured some momentum in the third, leading from the midpoint on until a furious late rally from the Bucs gave FSW a 25-23 win to sweep the match 3-0. 
Miami Dade got off to a good start, scoring the first three points of the match to jump out in front early and held the lead through the beginning portion of the first set until FSW used a 3-0 run of their own to tie the score at 9.  The Sharks pushed back ahead after three straight points but FSW answered with a 5-0 run out of a timeout to take their first lead of the night at 15-12.  The teams continued to trade blows to 22-22 when back to back kills for the Sharks gave them two cracks at set point.  Fiona Baker found Elissa Alcantara out of a timeout for a kill to give the Bucs a chance and a big block from Barbara Koehler and Deborah Ribeiro knotted the score at 24.  A sideout by the Sharks gave them their third set point, but a kill from Koehler leveled the count again at 25. On the next play Arianna Rossi made a diving dig on the back end to keep a play alive for FSW and Koehler put away her sixth kill of the set to put the Bucs up one 26-25.  With their first set point in front of them, the Bucs finished the Sharks off as a Miami Dade attack sailed long and FSW clinched the first 27-25 to go up 1-0 in the match.  
FSW used the momentum from the first to jump out to a 5-1 lead in the second, but the Sharks came firing back, tying the score at 5-5 after a 4-0 burst. The Bucs pushed back in front, but again Miami Dade wouldn't let them separate and the score was tied again at the midway point at 13-13. Back and forth the two went with high level volleyball being played on both sides of the net with neither being able to gain an advantage with the score remaining deadlocked at 17.  A kill from Maria Cecilia jumpstarted a 5-1 run for FSW to put them on the doorstep of a 2-0 lead as they led 22-18 but with a rowdy home crowd behind them, once again Miami Dade put up a fight, tying the score at 23 with a big solo block on an FSW back row attack.  Alcantara slammed one to the floor for FSW to give them set point but Miami Dade answered with one of their own to make it 24-24.  Another big swing for Alcantara gave the Bucs their second crack at the set and this time they closed it out as a miscue by the Sharks gave FSW the final point them needed for a 26-24 to go up 2-0 in the match.  
With their backs to the wall, the Sharks came out firing in the third, taking a 4-0 lead to begin the set.  As was par for the course on the night, FSW had some bullets in their guns as well, answering back to tie the score at 4 a short time later.  An ace by Yunju Lee and a block from Koehler and Johnasia Carr midway through the set put the Bucs up 10-8 and back to back stuffs from Carr and Cecilia after a Shark timeout made it a 12-8 game in favor of FSW.  Looking to avoid the sweep on their home floor, Miami Dade answered with a run of their own, erasing the Bucs lead and taking a 17-14 lead of their own deep in the set. The Sharks held their three point lead to 20-17 before a 4-1 FSW run highlighted by two big blocks from Julia Lawrenz tied the score back up at 21.  The Bucs pushed ahead on a kill from Petkova and another blast from the FSW outside gave them two shots at match point, leading 24-22.  The Sharks fought off the Bucs first crack, but couldn't on match point number two as a spectacular defensive effort by FSW gave them a swing to win it and Maria Cecilia did just that, crushing an attack through the Miami Dade blockers and to the floor to give the Bucs the set 25-23 and the match 3-0.  
The Bucs finished with 46 kills on the night, their second most in a three set match this season, while hitting .246 as a team.  Alcantara and Koehler both shined, each notching 11 kills with just a single error while Petkova added 10 kills in the victory. Koehler and Petkova both picked up double-doubles in the win, Koehler pairing 15 digs with her 11 kills and Petkova 14 with her 10. Baker led the Bucs with 23 assists while Lee had 15 and FSW's only two aces on the night.  The Bucs played big on both levels defensively, outblocking the Sharks 13-5 including seven from Ribeiro and five from Cecilia while Rossi led FSW with 17 digs in the sweep. 
FSW hands Miami Dade their first home loss since the 2016 season and their first home sweep since 2015.  The win is the 12th straight for the Bucs who improve to 15-2 overall and a perfect 10-0 in Suncoast Conference play.  The Bucs snap Miami Dade's seven game winning streak, dropping the Sharks to 9-3 overall and 7-3 in league action.  It is the eighth win over a ranked opponent for FSW this season and the fourth over a Top 10 ranked foe. 
The Bucs return home to continue a busy week of action on Thursday when they host Indian River in a 6 PM first serve from Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers.