Posted: Sep 09, 2022
LAS VEGAS, Nev.- The #1 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers got all they wanted and then some on Saturday morning in Las Vegas as the Bucs fought back after losing the first set to #15 Seward County for a 3-1 win including a 31-29 come from behind win in the fourth set to improve to 8-0 on the 2022 season.
Early on it was the Lady Saints of Seward County that controlled the tempo as FSW had trouble getting their potent offense on track thanks in part to a big block from Seward to lead them to an 11-6 lead to begin the first set. A Buccaneer timeout didn't slow down Seward's momentum as the Lady Saints continued to push, scoring 8 of the next 10 points to cushion their lead to 16-8. A kill from Barbara Koehler finally got the Bucs on track and they rolled off seven straight points, including a pair of aces from Arianna Rossi to get back to within one at 19-18. Moments later a Seward hitting error knotted the score at 20, but the Lady Saints scored the final five points from there to take the set 25-20 snapping a 21 set winning streak for FSW.
FSW came out angry in the second, using an early 9-1 run to run out to a 12-4 lead as they looked to even the match. They continued to pour it on as back to back aces from Roberta Purashaj opened the lead to 18-7 and a solo block from Izzy Collier had FSW up two touchdowns at 21-7. They didn't let off the gas as a big back row attack from Koehler gave them set point and Alarcon hammered an overpass to the floor to seal it as the Bucs took the set 25-8 to knot things up at one set a piece.
The Bucs carried the momentum right over into the third as they jumped out to an 8-1 lead after two straight kills from Maria Cecilia and a block from Cecilia and Collier early in the period. FSW didn't relent, upping their advantage to double digits later in the period at 20-10 on a kill from Koehler before splitting the final 10 points to take the set 25-15 to go up 2-1 in the match.
It looked like things were headed to a fifth set for the Bucs for the first time this season in the fourth as Seward regained their footing and led things 12-7 midway through before using a 7-1 run to balloon the lead to 16-8. After splitting the next six points to make it 19-11 Seward County, the Bucs found a spark and began an epic comeback. A kill from Collier got the Bucs the ball back and Rossi held serve for the next four points to get FSW back to within three at 19-16. A sideout for the Lady Saints got Seward the ball back and they pushed the Bucs to set point at 24-20. A big block from Koehler and Collier kept the Bucs alive and two straight solo blocks from the Bucs middle made it a 24-23 game. A good serve from Purashaj caused an errant pass from Seward and Cecilia banged the overpass to the ground to knot the game up at 24. The teams went back and forth the next four points before a Seward kill gave the Lady Saints a chance to finish the set, leading 27-26. Another key block from the Bucs front line tied the score back up and they continued to trade points to 29-29 as the FSW and Seward contingents in Las Vegas for the game held their breaths with each passing point. After a long rally, Koehler smashed a shot cross court to give the Bucs their second match point and this time they finished it off as a good serve from Jada Coleman teed up Collier at the net with an overpass and the Bucs rookie didn't miss, slamming it home on the Seward side to send the Bucs bench into an eruption as FSW took the marathon 31-29 to win the match 3-1.
Alarcon put together the best match of her young FSW career, banging home a team high 19 kills while also pulling up 10 digs in her second career double-double. Koehler finished with 16 kills while Cecilia reached double figures with 10 while also notching 11 digs and 7 blocks. Collier put up an FSW record 11 blocks including 5 solo stuffs while Pratcher was in on 6 of the Bucs' season high 18 blocks. Purashaj dished out 40 assists and had 4 big aces for FSW while Rossi paced the backline with 19 digs.
The Bucs remain unbeaten on the season at 8-0 with the win while Seward drops just their third match in 15 outings as they fall to 12-3 on the year. The win is the fifth of the season over a ranked opponent for FSW.
FSW will have one more test before heading back to the Sunshine State as they take on DII #11 Glendale Saturday morning at 11:00 AM (EST) to wrap up the tournament.