LAKELAND, FL - Whitney Drost finished with a career-high 17 kills and freshman middle blocker Rachael Martin came up huge as Florida Southern College volleyball rallied back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Tampa, 3-2, in its first Sunshine State Conference contest of the season on Tuesday at Jenkins Field House.
The Moccasins (4-5, 1-0 SSC) used a dominant fourth-set effort to tie the contest at 2-2 and earned a 15-10 set win in the decisive fifth set to earn their second-straight win against the Spartans (2-7, 0-1) and open conference play with a win for the 10th-straight season.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Tampa looked as if it might run away with the first set by jumping out to an early 4-0 lead, but Florida Southern got back on track and was able to battle back to tie things at 7-7 in the early going. The Mocs were able to stay within at least three points of the Spartans and actually took a 21-20 lead when Martin blocked an attack late in the set. But Tampa was able to score five of the next six points to win the set and grab an early 1-0 lead.
• The second set saw Florida Southern build an early lead, forcing Tampa into an early timeout after going up by four (9-5). The Spartans seized momentum following the timeout and took a small lead of its own (12-11), but the Mocs reeled off three-straight points to jump in front 14-12 and never trailed again en route to a 25-21 set victory to tie the match at a set apiece.
• In the third set, neither team was able to get much separation until Tampa went on a 6-0 run midway through to turn a 14-13 lead into a 20-13 advantage. The Mocs were able to get within three (23-20) late in the set but could not pull off the rally.
• With its back to the wall, FSC dominated the fourth set to force a fifth set. Leading by just one (5-4) early on, the Moccasins slowly built a comfortable lead of six points (17-11) before blowing the set wide open with six-straight points to take an insurmountable 23-11 lead on their way to a dominating 25-15 set victory.
• The momentum carried over to the final set, as the Mocs scored the first point and never trailed on their way to a 15-10 victory. Florida Southern led by as many as six points on two occasions in the final set as Tampa never really recovered from the fourth set loss.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern improved to 56-69 all-time against the Spartans, including a 31-28 record when facing Tampa in Lakeland. The victory was FSC's second-straight over Tampa dating back to last year when the Mocs eliminated the Spartans from the NCAA South Regional. Florida Southern has won four of the last five meetings with UT. The victory also marked the 10th-straight season in which the Moccasins have opened conference play with a win. Tampa's 2-7 record is its worst start in school history.
• Drost finished with a career-best 17 kills and added nine digs, four service aces, and three total blocks. She hit a blistering .552 on the attack and committed just one attack error in 19 total attempts. Martin, who made her first career start, tallied 10 kills and five total blocks, while Anna Tovo notched 13 kills and 14 digs.
• The Mocs finished the contest with a .210 attack percentage while limiting the Spartans to just .195. Florida Southern also came up with 11 total blocks while Tampa notched nine, and the Moccasins tallied eight service aces.
• Florida Southern will play host to Lynn on Friday at 7 p.m. and is off on Saturday before resuming SSC play next week. The Mocs are slated to play at Rollins on Sept. 29 (7 p.m.) and at No. 4 Palm Beach Atlantic on Sept. 30 (4 p.m.). The Mocs are also awaiting word on makeup dates for postponed contests against Eckerd and Saint Leo, which were slated to be played last weekend but were moved due to Hurricane Irma. Check FSCMocs.com for the latest schedule updates.