DAYTONA BEACH, FL - Three different players tallied at least 10 kills as Florida Southern College volleyball bounced back from a first-set loss to pick up a 3-1 victory over Embry-Riddle in Sunshine State Conference action on Saturday at the ICI Center. The Moccasins (18-9, 10-6 SSC) overcame a slow start on offense to top the Eagles (17-9, 8-8) for the second time this season.
Nicole Mattson (18), Rachael Martin (14), and Whitney Drost (13) paced the Mocs' offense while Gabby Fresh (28) and Buse Ene (20) led Florida Southern in digs. The Moccasins held ERAU to less than .200 on the attack in the final three sets to snag their 18th victory of the season. Southern has won at least 18 matches in each of the past nine seasons.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- In a match that featured two sets that went to extra points, the Eagles took the early advantage by earning a 28-26 first-set win. Although Florida Southern raced out to a big lead (17-10), Embry-Riddle was able to battle back thanks to an 8-2 run that turned the seven-point deficit into just a one-point contest (19-18). After the Moccasins scored to make it 20-18, the Eagles reeled off four in a row to grab a 22-20 lead. The Mocs had a chance to close out the set when they took a 25-24 lead, but the Eagles struck for two in a row and, after FSC tied things at 26-26, ERAU scored two more to earn a hard-fought first-set win.
- After both teams battled back and forth throughout the early portion of the second set, Florida Southern was able to gain separation thanks to a late 7-1 run that turned a 16-14 lead into an insurmountable 23-15 advantage. The Eagles pulled within six (24-18), but Martin put down the set-clinching kill to give the Moccasins a 25-18 second-set win to even things up at 1-1.
- Embry-Riddle stormed out of the gates in the third set by scoring the first six points, but Southern responded with seven in a row to steal the momentum and take an early 7-6 lead. After ERAU regained the lead (8-7) just moments later, the Moccasins responded with an 11-1 run to jump in front by nine (18-9). The scoring run would carry the Mocs to another 25-18 set victory to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
- The final set of the afternoon was a 29-27 marathon in which Florida Southern would stave off defeat twice in the closing moments. The Eagles used a 6-0 run early in the fourth to take a 7-3 lead, but the Mocs eventually battled back to even the score at 13-13 and would eventually grab a 17-14 lead. With things tied at 22-22 in the late going, the Moccasins scored two in a row to set up match-point. But the Eagles scored twice to tie things up, and delayed defeat again with another pair of points after FSC went up 25-24 to put pressure back on the Mocs. Buse Ene put down a kill to make it 26-26, and the duo of Drost/Martin came up with a huge block to start a match-ending 3-0 run to gove Florida Southern a 29-27 fourth-set win.
- Mattson finished with a team-high in kills while also adding 17 digs. Martin hit an impressive .464 on the attack, and Bethany Besancenez recorded 58 assists and 19 digs. Tierra Porter added eight kills and three blocks. Florida Southern hit .229 as a team while holding the Eagles to just .153 and tallied nine total service aces.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Florida Southern improved to 9-1 all-time against Embry-Riddle, including 4-1 when facing the Eagles on the road. The Moccasins hit 18 wins for the ninth-straight year, and have recorded double-digit wins in SSC play for the eighth time in the last nine seasons.
- Mattson upped her career kill total to 1,580 kills and needs 37 more to move into fourth place in school history. She has also tallied 1,244 digs to move into 10th in program history in career digs. Besancenez pushed her career assist total to 5,054 to become just the second player in school history with 5,000 assists. She has also recorded 1,313 digs and needs 10 more to move into eighth in program history.
- Florida Southern will finish out its road slate with matches against Nova Southeastern (Nov. 2) and Palm Beach Atlantic (Nov. 3) before closing out the regular season with contests against Rollins (Nov. 9) and Tampa (Nov. 10). The Moccasins were ranked No. 3 in the South Region when the NCAA released its first regional rankings earlier this week, putting the Mocs in line to secure their ninth-straight NCAA Tournament berth. The top eight teams in the final regional rankings will earn a trip to the NCAA South Regional.