Bucs Attack Sharp in 2022 Openers

Roberta Purashaj and Izzy Collier (Photo by Brad Young/BradYoungPhoto.com)
Roberta Purashaj and Izzy Collier (Photo by Brad Young/BradYoungPhoto.com)
FORT MYERS, Fla.- The #4 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers used a potent offensive attack to pick up a pair of wins on the opening day of the 2022 Battle of the Beach Tournament at Suncoast Credit Union Arena Friday.  FSW opened their campaign with a 3-1 win over Trinity Valley, setting a number of new program single game records in the process before sweeping #14 Utah State-Eastern in the nightcap to start their season a perfect 2-0. 
A pair of FSW freshman got the Bucs going in their first career games in FSW's first contest of the day against Trinity Valley as Izzy Collier banged home a pair of kills and Alondra Alarcon followed suit to give the Purple and Aqua a 5-1 lead to start the first. The Lady Cardinals fought back to take their first lead of the match midway through the set and the two went back and forth to 24-24 later on in the period. Trinity Valley took the next point to reach set point, but the Bucs would fight off that attempt for the set and another before the Lady Cards finally finished off a 27-25 first set win to take a 1-0 lead in the match. 
FSW raced out to another early lead in the second, but this time they didn't turn back.  The Bucs led it 10-5 at the 15 point mark after Roberta Purashaj connected with Barbara Koehler and FSW extended their lead to eight when Purashaj found Maria Cecilia on the right side to make it 18-10 Bucs. A Trinity Valley attack long sealed the deal for the Bucs in the second as they cruised to a 25-16 win to even the match at 1. 
The third set followed the same script as the second as FSW jumped out to an early 9-1 lead behind a stand at the service line from Arianna Rossi and found themselves nine clear of the Lady Cards later in the set at 19-10 when Barbara Koehler and Alondra Alarcon fired off back to back rockets to keep the Bucs in control.  A block from Purashaj and Julia Lawrenz gave FSW set point in the third and Lawrenz found a hole out of the middle to seal it as the Bucs took the set by another count of 25-16 to go up 2-1 in the match. 
Early in the fourth FSW history was made as Rossi scooped up her 27th dig of the match, setting a new program single game record, but it was Trinity Valley who controlled the pace with their backs to the wall, leading it 8-7 at the 15 point mark. The Bucs looked liked they were in trouble as the Lady Cards upped their lead to four at 21-17 later in the set, but FSW had no interest in going the distance on this day as they scored five of the next six points to knot the score at 22 before taking a 26-25 lead on a big block from Collier and Koehler and finishing things off on a huge swing from Cecilia to take the set 27-25 and the match 3-1. 
A number of program single game records fell in the victory for the Bucs as FSW set team records for kills (73), attacks (186), assists (68), and digs (101) while Rossi set an individual program mark with 32 digs and Purashaj began her Buccaneer career with some history, collecting 60 assists which is also the most in a single game in program history.  
Along with the record setters, a number of other Bucs had big games as well. Four FSW players registered double-doubles as Koehler went for 20 kills and 17 digs, Cecilia finished with 15 kills and 14 digs, Alarcon had 11 kills and 16 digs, and Purashaj pulled up 17 digs to go along with her 60 helpers.  The Bucs middles were efficient on the attack as well as Lawrenz and Collier finished with 24 kills and just 4 errors, hitting .426 as a pair. 
In their second match of the day the Bucs squared off with a team that has been a thorn in their side the past two seasons, the 14th ranked Utah State-Eastern Eagles. 
With both teams coming off of a win earlier in the day, it was a back and forth battle early on with the scored tied at 5 after the two sides traded blocks. FSW pushed ahead 12-9 midway through the set and stretched that lead to five at 16-11 when Purashaj found Cecilia on the right side for a shot down the line. The Eagles closed the gap to two at 18-16, but one last step on the gas for the Bucs finished things off as Koehler had a big swing to give FSW set point and a miscue on the USU-Eastern side sealed their fate as the Bucs took the set 25-18 to go up 1-0 in the match. 
The Bucs switched things up a little bit offensively in the second and early on it did not pay off as USU-Eastern jumped out to a 5-3 lead before a five point run, including a pair of aces from Victoria Zibecchi flipped the script and had FSW in front 11-8. The Bucs never looked back from there as Cecilia got her easiest kill of the way with a free ball that found the floor on the Eagle side of the floor to make it 17-13 and back row attack from Alarcon stretched the FSW lead to 21-15.  The teams traded points the rest of the way, but that was ok for the Bucs who finished things off 25-18 to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.  
A tough stand at the service line from Maiana Coehlo was advantageous for the Bucs to begin the third as the FSW sophomore kept USU-Eastern out of system and also dialed up an ace to give the Purple and Aqua an 11-7 lead as they looked to finish off the sweep.  Four straight kills for the Eagles later in the set put them back in front momentarily, but Coehlo connected with Alarcon for a kill to level things out at 17.  Tied at 20, a kill from Zibecchi followed by an ace from Jada Coleman gave FSW a two point lead and a timeout couldn't stop their momentum as a pair of Eagle errors gave the Bucs set point and Barbara Koehler unleashed a rocket off of her right hand to put the exclamation point on a 25-20 win for FSW to wrap up the 3-0 sweep. 
Four Bucs finished with 8 or more kills in the win as Alarcon and Lawrenz each had 8 while Koehler and Cecilia had 9 each on the pins.  Purashaj dished out 21 assists while Coehlo added a dozen. The Buc served tough, finishing with 8 aces and just 2 errors while Rossi led three FSW players with double digit digs with 15.  
The Bucs start 2-0 for the third time in four seasons with the wins.  
Things don't get any easier for the Bucs as they will take on #9 Central Wyoming in the first game of the day Saturday at 10:00 before squaring off with the two time defending National Champion Iowa Western Reivers in their second game of the day at 3:00.