Posted: Sep 08, 2022
LAS VEGAS, Nev.- After experiencing the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas Strip Wednesday night, the #1 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers came out ready to put on a show of their own on the Volleyball court Thursday as they opened up play at the Coyote Classic in Sin City. The Bucs started the tournament with a 3-0 sweep over host College of Southern Nevada before grinding out a 3-0 win over Arizona Western in their nightcap to improve to 7-0 on the year.
In their first match of the day against Southern Nevada, the Bucs took an early shot from the Coyotes and found themselves down 5-1 before rallying back to score 9 of the next 10 points to take a 10-6 lead of their own. Moments later, with Alondra Alarcon at the service line, the Bucs went on a 9-0 run, highlighted by three kills from Barbara Koehler to open up a 20-9 lead before going on to win 25-12.
The second was all FSW from the start. The Bucs jumped out to a 4-1 lead thanks to a pair of early blocks from Izzy Collier and quickly opened up a double digit advantage at 14-4 as Alarcon found the floor with an ace. The Bucs went up by as many as 16 before mercifully finishing off the Coyotes on a solo block from Christina Pratcher to take the set 25-11 and go up 2-0 in the match.
The Bucs bench brought it home in the third as a pair of early aces from Anica Bobic pushed FSW out to an early 4-0 advantage and a kill from Madu Fontes had the Purple and Aqua up 9-3 as the set neared the midway point. A block from Pratcher and Victoria Zibecchi stretched the lead to 18-8 and back to back CSN hitting errors sealed the Coyotes' fate as the Bucs took the third 25-16 to sweep the match 3-0.
All 16 players saw action in the win for the Bucs. FSW hit a cool .329 as a team in the win with 10 different players recording kills, led by Maria Cecilia who finished with 9 errorless kills on 16 swings to hit a cool .562. The Bucs used all four setters in the victory with Kate Roth leading the way with 13 assists. FSW finished with 13 aces, 5 coming from Arianna Rossi who also paced the Bucs with 16 digs in the contest. The Bucs picked up 10 blocks in the three set match with eight different players getting in on at least one and Pratcher notching a career high 6 to lead that group.
The Bucs were challenged quite a bit more in their nightcap with Arizona Western in a matchup of two teams separated by nearly 2,500 miles on the map.
Arizona Western came out fired up, quickly jumping out to a 4-1 lead on the top ranked Bucs. FSW found their footing and scored 12 of the next 14 points to turn a three point deficit into an eight point lead at 14-6 after a stuff block from Koehler and Collier. FSW continued to lead it big, holding a 20-13 advantage late in the stanza before finishing the Matadors off 25-19 on Koehler's fourth kill of the period.
The Bucs played from behind again in the second as the Matadors got out to a 3-1 and then 13-8 lead midway through the set thanks to a tough serve game and a staggering FSW offense. A timeout got the Bucs back on track and a 10-2 run was just what the doctor ordered as four straight Arizona Western attack errors allowed FSW to erase the deficit and take an 18-15 lead of their own. The Matadors got back to within one at 21-20, but it was all FSW from there as a kill from Alarcon through the block put them a point away from the set and a ball handling error on Arizona Western sealed their fate as the Bucs took the set 25-21 to go up 2-0 in the contest.
The third was a similar result, but came in a much different way. For the first time in the match the Bucs got off to a good start, leading it 6-1 and then 14-5 midway through the period. It looked like the Bucs were smooth sailing as Roberta Purashaj found Cecilia in the back row for a kill to make it 20-13, but Arizona Western wasn't ready to go down without a fight. The Matadors for a sideout and went on to score 8 of the next 9 to completely incinerate the Bucs lead and tie the game at 21. With the clock nearing midnight on the East Coast, the Bucs decided they had had enough fun for one day as Cecilia and Alarcon picked up kills to make it 23-21 and an attack wide by the Matadors put the bow on it for FSW as the Bucs took the set 25-21 to sweep the match 3-0.
Alarcon and Koehler led the way with 23 kills for the Bucs offense while Purashaj dished out 32 assists in the win. Rossi topped the Bucs with 10 digs while Collier was in on a team high 3 blocks.
The two wins move the #1 ranked Bucs to 7-0 on the year.
FSW will be back in action Friday at 2:00 PM (EST) when they take on #15 Seward County in a reunion of sorts for Bucs Head Coach Thais Baziquetto-Allen who coached the Lady Saints back to prominence from 2015-2018 before coming to Fort Myers to start the FSW program.