Florida Southern Falls to Concordia-St. Paul in National Title Match; Mocs Post Best Finish in School History

Florida Southern volleyball captured the highest finish in program history as the 2017 NCAA Division II Runner-Up.
Florida Southern volleyball captured the highest finish in program history as the 2017 NCAA Division II Runner-Up.

PENSACOLA, FL - The magical run for Florida Southern College volleyball ended on Saturday night as it fell to defending national champion Concordia-St. Paul, 3-0, in the NCAA Division II National Championship match at UWF Field House. The No. 21 Moccasins (30-7) hung tough with the No. 3 Golden Bears (34-3) all night, but were unable to slow down a blistering offensive attack by the Golden Bears, who won their second-straight national title and their ninth in the last 11 years.

Florida Southern's runner-up finish is the highest in program history, as the Mocs were making their first-ever appearance in a National Championship contest. The Moccasins entered Saturday's title tilt with 24-straight wins, the second-best win streak in school history. The Mocs will return 12 of 17 players next season with the departure of five seniors.

• Florida Southern came out of the gate strong as it built a two-point lead (11-9) midway through the first set. Concordia-St. Paul used a 4-1 run to take a 13-12 lead, but it was short lived as the Mocs scored two-straight to regain the advantage (14-13) and held on to the lead until late in the set. With the score standing at 21-20 in favor of the Moccasins, the Golden Bears rallied for back-to-back scores to make it 22-21, but Florida Southern came right back with a pair of points to snag a 23-22 lead. It would not be enough, however, as Concordia-St. Paul scored three-straight points to win the set (25-23) and take a 1-0 lead in the match.
• In the second set, The Moccasins again took an early lead and stayed in front until midway through the set. Clinging to a one-point advantage (12-11), Florida Southern would fall behind when the Golden Bears struck for seven points in a row to open up an 18-12 lead. The Mocs scored three in a row to get back into the mix (18-15), but could not get any closer as Concordia-St. Paul used a 3-0 run to go up by six (21-15) en route to a 25-20 second-set win.
• The third set saw the Golden Bears get out to an early lead (7-3) before Florida Southern clawed its way back into contention with a 4-0 run midway through the set to pull within two (16-14) and remained close until late when Concordia-St. Paul used a 5-2 run to close things out (25-20) and clinch the national title.
• The Moccasins hit .211 on the attack while the Golden Bears connected at a clip of .308. Concordia-St. Paul finished with six blocks to Florida Southern's five, and both teams tallied three service aces. Nicole Mattson led the Mocs with 12 kills, while Anna Tovo tallied nine and Rachael Martin had eight. Bethany Besancenez finished with 34 assists and 16 digs.

• Florida Southern earned its highest finish in school history with its runner-up finish, besting the fourth-place finishes of the 1982, 1989 and 1991 squads. The Moccasins' 24-match win streak during the year is the second longest in program history, trailing only the 1990 team's run of 33-straight wins. The Mocs are now 30-34 all-time in the NCAA Tournament after making their 31st appearance.
• Mattson increased her season kill total to 544, the 10th-best single-season total in program history. Tovo improved her career kill total to 1,612 to finish her career with the fourth-most kills in school history and recorded double-digit digs for the 24th time this year. Allie Geary improved her career block total to 390 and ends her career ranked sixth in school history in blocks. Besancenez finished the season with 1,588 assists, the sixth-highest single-season total in program history. Her 3,947 career assists are tied with Ali Skayhan (2010-14) for the fourth most in school history.
• Besancenez, Mattson, and Tovo each earned a spot on the NCAA Championship all-tournament team. Mattson tallied 43 kills and 44 digs in three matches during the weekend, while Tovo finished with 41 kills and 42 digs. Besancenez finished the weekend with 132 assists and 37 digs.
• Florida Southern's 30 wins this year are the highest total since 2006, when the Moccasins won 31 matches. The Mocs have won at least 30 matches 16 times in their volleyball history. Saturday's contest marked the fourth year in a row that Florida Southern has had one or more of its athletic programs compete in the NCAA Championship final in a team sport.