Bucs Top #15 Daytona In Battle of NJCAA's Final Two Unbeatens

Ariana Rossi (Photo by Linwood Ferguson/CaptivePhotons.com)
Ariana Rossi (Photo by Linwood Ferguson/CaptivePhotons.com)
FORT MYERS, Fla.- After dropping the first set Thursday night at home to #15 Daytona State, the #1 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers bounced back and won three straight for a 3-1 come from behind win over the Falcons in a battle of the final two undefeated teams at the NJCAA Division I level.  
The Bucs got off to a rough start in the first as an early 4-0 run by the Falcons had Daytona out to an early 7-3 lead.  They continued to cushion their lead as the set went along, taking a 15-9 advantage midway through before finishing the Bucs off 25-16 to take a 1-0 lead in the match.  
FSW went back to their traditional 5-1 formation in the second and it paid dividends right away as they raced out to an 8-2 lead thanks to a pair of blocks from Julia Lawrenz and continued to lead it by six later on at 11-5. Daytona made a push midway through the set and knotted things up at 17 after three straight kills. A putaway from Lawrenz got FSW back on track and the Bucs went on a 3-0 sprint to retake a 20-17 lead late in the period.  Up two moments later, Maria Cecilia and Izzy Collier combined on a key block to give the Bucs set point and Alondra Alarcon cut a shot back across the court for a kill to seal it 25-21 to even the match at one set apiece.  After Daytona hit over .300 in the first and held FSW to under a .100 mark, the script flipped in the second as the Bucs finished with 17 kills and the Falcons hit just .054.  
For the second straight set, the Bucs got off to a good start in the third as they took a 6-2 lead eight points in.  After back to back blocks from Daytona made it a two point game, FSW stepped on the gas again, taking a 12-8 lead midway through the set after an out of system kill from Madu Fontes. An ace from Victoria Zibecchi and a successful joust from Roberta Purashaj opened up a 19-13 lead for FSW late in the set and a late push by Daytona was foiled by a service error to give the Bucs the set 25-18 to go ahead 2-1 in the match. 
The fourth was tied at 6 early on before three straight Daytona errors allowed the Bucs to take a 9-6 advantage.  Alarcon's 10th kill of the match put FSW up four midway through the set at 13-9 and a four point run moments later with Zibecchi at the service line opened the Bucs lead up to 18-10. An ace from Fontes gave the Bucs ten cracks at match point and a well placed dump from Purashaj sealed the deal as the Bucs took the fourth 25-15 to finish off the comeback for a 3-1 win. 
It was a defensive battle all night on both sides of the net as the state's top two offenses both struggled to put the ball away as FSW finished hitting just .185 and Daytona was limited to a .131 mark.  Cecilia led the Bucs with 16 kills in the win while Alarcon shook off a slow start to finish with 14 kills and 19 digs for FSW.  Lawrenz finished with 9 kills and a .417 hitting percentage while Fontes notched a career high 7 kills off the bench for the Purple and Aqua.  Purashaj dished out 40 assists and also had 16 digs for the Bucs in the victory while Arianna Rossi was all over the floor as usual on the back line, leading FSW players with 23 digs. 
FSW is the last remaining unbeaten in the NJCAA Division I ranks with the win as they improve to 11-0 overall and 3-0 in Suncoast Conference play. The Bucs have now won 28 straight Suncoast Conference games dating back to October of 2019. 
Daytona drops their first match of the year as they fall to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in conference action.  
The Bucs will look to remain hot on Saturday when they return home to Suncoast Credit Union Arena to host the Indian River State Pioneers in a 2:00 PM matinee affair.