Mocs Open SSC Play With Victory Over Lynn, Runs Win Streak to Eight

Mocs Open SSC Play With Victory Over Lynn, Runs Win Streak to Eight

LAKELAND - Florida Southern Volleyball opened Sunshine State Conference play here Friday evening with an impressive four-set victory over Lynn (25-21, 25-27, 25-23, 25-18) in front 333 fans at Jenkins Field House.

The win extended the Moccasins win streak to nine consecutive matches and improved the Mocs to 9-4 overall on the season and 1-0 in the SSC, while snapping Lynn's seven match winning streak in the process.

"What a tremendous atmosphere in here tonight," Mocs head coach Jill Stephens said. "It was a typical SSC volleyball match as both teams kept battling and making play after play.

"It was a dog fight."

The difference in Friday's match was the third set as the Mocs scored the final four points to turn a 23-21 deficit into a 25-23 victory and take a 2-1 lead in the match.

"That was a great win for our team in the third set," said Stephens following the two-hour match that featured 22 ties and eight lead changes. "Lynn is a good team, but I thought we really stepped up in some big situations tonight and made some plays."

The Mocs victory was aided by a triple-double from junior setter Ali Skayhan (Beaverton, Ore.). Skayhan, who hit .455 for the match, finished the match with 11 kills, 41 assists and a season-high 18 digs. The triple-double was the first by a Moc player since Brenda Mowell had 19 kills, 12 digs and 12 blocks in a five-set match against Metro State on Aug. 29, 1998.

In addition to Skayhan, sophomore right side hitter Gabby Fernandez (Tampa, Fla.) recorded 16 kills, while sophomore outside hitter Kate Stromberg (Lexington, Ky.) posted 14 kills and 16 digs for her sixth double-double of the season. 

Defensively, freshman libero Arielle Fernandez (Pacifica, Calif.) continued her stellar play as the reigning SSC Defensive Player of the Week had 16 digs and added a service ace in the win. Fernandez has now had double digit digs in six consecutive matches. As a team, FSC finished with 71 digs and outblocked the Fighting Knights, 6-5. 

The Mocs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first set and led 10-6 when Lynn used a 12-8 run to tie the set at 18. Following that tie, the teams traded points until FSC scored five of the final six points, including capping the set with a kill by Gabby Fernandez to earn the 25-21 win.

Unlike the first set, the second set featured 10 ties and three lead changes as the Fighting Knights (8-2 overall, 1-1 SSC) hit .250 and recorded 17 kills en route to posting a 27-25 win to even the match at 1-1. In the set, the Mocs trailed 24-22 following a kill by Lizzy Raffa, before scoring two straight points to tie the set at 24. After trading points, the LU was able to hold off the Mocs by scoring the set's final two points.

In the third set, FSC trailed early on until a 6-1 run capped by a set error from Lynn gave the Mocs an 18-16 lead. But, Lynn would respond with a 7-3 run to take a 23-21 lead following a kill by Angie Caple. That kill would be the Fighting nights final point of the set, though, as the Mocs scored the final points, including three straight kills from Gabby Fernandez, freshman middle blocker Kayshia Brady (Crescent City, Fla.) and Stromberg to end the set and take a 2-1 lead in the match.

The fourth and final set was all FSC as the Mocs hit .314 and recorded 14 kills and held LU to a .182 hitting percentage and 10 kills. The Mocs jumped out to a 10-5 lead and led 17-10 when the Fighting Knights used an 8-4 run to pull within 21-18 following a Moc attack error. That would be as close as LU would get as the Mocs scored four of the final five points to secure the victory.

"This team has continued to improve each and every day," the Moc coach added.

Lynn was paced by the play Caple, who finished with 12 kills and a .320 hitting percentage, while Brianna Cox and Raffa added 10 kills in the loss. Michelle Jordan posted 18 digs and Raffa had 16 digs as the Fighting Knights recorded 71 in the match.

The Mocs continue its two-match homestand on Saturday as they host Barry in a 4 p.m. SSC contest at Jenkins Field House. The match is being billed as "Hope for Addison" as all proceeds raised at the match will go to support Addison in her fight against cancer. Addison is the 3-year-old daughter of FSC Volleyball alumna, Jamie Mills Barber and her husband, Bobby, who is also an FSC graduate.