Posted: Oct 20, 2022
FORT MYERS, Fla.- Playing at home in Fort Myers for the first time since the devastating Hurricane in southwest Florida, the #2 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers put on a show for their fans Thursday night, hammering the visiting Eastern Florida State Titans 3-0 in a match that only lasted an hour and five minutes and that the Bucs never trailed in.
The first two points of the match were a sign of things to come for the Bucs as Arianna Rossi started a record breaking night for herself with an ace and Roberta Purashaj and Izzy Collier combined for a block on the next play to put FSW ahead 2-0 and they never looked back. The net was like a brick wall for the Titans in the first as FSW was all over the Eastern Florida hitters in the period, recording block after block while also dialing up a tough service game with a pair of aces from Maria Cecilia to stake themselves out to a 14-6 lead midway through the set. The Bucs continued to push, upping their lead to 10 on a kill from Barbara Koehler before Julia Lawrenz ripped a cross court shot on set point to give FSW the first 25-10 to take a 1-0 lead in the match. The offensive numbers were pedestrian for the Bucs in the first, but only because Eastern had trouble getting it back on FSW's side of the net as the Bucs notched five aces and eight blocks in the period, holding the Titans to a -.241 hitting percentage.
The second was more of the same. The Bucs started the set up 11-1, getting offense from all over the floor with five different players recording kills to give FSW the big early lead. It remained all Purple and Aqua later on as Maiana Coelho connected with Lawrenz on the slide to make it 18-7 and an ace from Victoria Zibecchi cushioned the lead to 23-9. The Bucs put the Titans out of their misery four points later when Madu Fontes picked up a kill out of the back row to give FSW the set 25-11 and put them up 2-0 in the match. After using their defense in the first set, the Bucs turned to their offense in the second, hitting .500 as a team with 13 kills and just one error on 24 swings in the period.
Just when Eastern thought the third set couldn't start any worse than the second did for them, it did. With Rossi at the service line, FSW scored the first 13 points of the set to jump out to a 13-0 lead over the Titans. The Bucs put it in cruise control from there as a solo block from Lawrenz made it 21-8 and an ace from Anica Bobic finished the Titans off 25-9 to complete the sweep.
The stat sheet was just about as expected at the end of the match as FSW finished the contest hitting .303 as a team while Eastern Florida hit a dreadful -.208 with just 11 kills on the night. The Bucs put together their best three set blocking performance in program history, finishing with 16 stuffs, three more than their previous best. Collier led the way with 9 while Purashaj and Lawrenz each had 5. Rossi had a record breaking night, scooping up 13 digs in the win pushing her over 700 for her career and setting a new FSW all-time record.
FSW improves to 18-1 overall and 10-1 in Suncoast Conference play with the win, moving back into a first place tie in the conference standings with Miami Dade's loss to Polk State in Miami Thursday night. Eastern sees their four game winning streak come to an abrupt end as they drop to 16-6 overall and 7-5 in league action with two games to go.
The win for FSW and the loss by Miami Dade sets up a huge matchup Saturday in Fort Myers as the Sharks will come to town to take on the Bucs with sole possession of first place in the conference standings on the line. The 2nd ranked Bucs will battle the 4th ranked Sharks at 3:00 at Bishop Verot High School with admission free for all spectators.