SAINT LEO, FL - After dropping the first two sets, Florida Southern College volleyball rallied back to win two in a row and send the match to a decisive fifth set, but was unable to complete the comeback in a 3-2 loss at Saint Leo on Saturday in Sunshine State Conference action. The No. 21 Moccasins (6-4, 1-1 SSC) took an early lead over the Lions (5-5, 2-0) in the final set, but Saint Leo scored seven of the next eight points to steal away momentum.
Nicole Mattson had another outstanding performance in the loss for the Mocs with 24 kills and 18 digs, while Rachael Martin added 14 kills of her own. Florida Southern will wrap up a three-match road stretch with conference contests at Lynn (Sept. 14) and Barry (Sept. 15).
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Florida Southern jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the first set and led 11-7 before Saint Leo found its footing. After mounting a comeback to tie things at 11-11, the Lions traded points with the Mocs until both teams were squared at 13-13. That's when Saint Leo ripped off an 11-0 run put the set out of reach en route to a 25-14 set victory.
- In the second set, it was Saint Leo that snagged the early advantage (5-1), but the Moccasins slowly climbed back into the mix and eventually snagged their first lead of the set at 14-13. It looked as if Southern would finish things off when it led 24-19 but the Lions mounted a comeback with seven unanswered points to take a 26-24 second set win.
- The third set saw the Mocs use a 7-0 run midway through to turn a 12-9 deficit into a 16-12 advantage. It would prove to be all the momentum that Florida Southern needed as it was able to stay alive with a 25-23 third-set win.
- Facing defeat and down 10-6 in the fourth set, the Moccasins battled back again and held a 17-16 lead in the late stages. After Saint Leo tied thing at 17-17, the Mocs scored five points in a row to put things out of reach and sent the match to a fifth and final set with a 25-20 win in the fourth.
- Saint Leo raced out to a 7-3 lead in the fifth set and seemed to have thing well in hand. However, Florida Southern made one final run and tied the match at 9-9. With the scored deadlocked at 12-12 just moments later, a pair of errors by the Mocs and an ace from the Lions ended things as Saint Leo took the final set 15-12.
- Mattson's 24 kills led all players while her 18 digs were the third-best in the match. Gabby Fresh finished with 24 digs and Bethany Besancenez had 56 assists. In addition to her 14 kills, Martin had four blocks while freshman Tierra Porter finished with five. Saint Leo limited to Florida Southern to just .174 on the attack and had at trio of players finish with 10 kills, paced by Ashley Quero's 15.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Florida Southern dropped to 74-10 all-time against Saint Leo, including a 28-8 mark when facing the Lions on the road.
- Saturday's match marked the fourth-straight time that Besancenez has recorded at least 50 assists. She has tallied 50 or more five times this season, and now has 4,367 for her career. Besancenez is 1,362 assists shy of tying Jordan McAfee for the most in school history.
- Mattson increased her career kill total to 1,318 to move into ninth place in school history. She needs four more to move up to eighth all-time. Mattson has 20 or more kills five times this year, including each of the last four matches.
- Florida Southern will face Lynn (Sept. 14) and Barry (Sept. 15) on the road before returning home for five-straight matches. The Mocs host Embry-Riddle (Sept. 21), Florida Tech (Sept. 22), Palm Beach Atlantic (Sept. 28) and Nova Southeastern (Sept. 29) before Saint Leo makes the return trip to Lakeland on Oct. 2.