Mocs Open SSC Play With Three-Set Home Win Over Lynn

Mocs Open SSC Play With Three-Set Home Win Over Lynn

LAKELAND - Florida Southern opened the Sunshine State Conference portion of its schedule here Friday evening by collecting a three-set sweep over Lynn (25-19, 25-17, 25-16) at Jenkins Field House.

The victory, which improved the Moccasins to 5-3 overall on the season and 1-0 in the SSC, was its fourth consecutive home win this season in straight sets as they posted three consecutive 3-0 wins at the season opening FSC/Terrace Hotel Classic on Sept. 5-6. In addition, the win was also FSC's sixth straight victory over the Fighting Knights.

"It was a great win for our team tonight," Moccasins head coach Jill Stephens said following her 299th career coaching win. "We got a balanced attack on offense and did a good job containing several of Lynn's key players on defense."

Since taking over the Moccasin program in 2001, Stephens has compiled a 299-153 overall record and has led the Mocs to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, including three consecutive South Regional Tournament semifinal appearances.

In Friday's victory, the Mocs hit over .300 for the third time this season as FSC finished the night hitting .354 as a team, including having three players hit over .400 for the match.

Friday's win was aided by the play of FSC's two starting middle blockers - junior Kayshia Brady (Welaka, Fla.) and sophomore Rachel Mostert (Clearwater, Fla.). Those two combined for 16 kills, seven blocks and hit a combined .467 for the match. Both players recorded eight kills on the night, while Brady added three blocks and hit a team-best .500, while Mostert had three digs, four blocks and hit .429.

"Our middles did a nice job tonight," the Mocs coach added.

FSC finished the match with a 9-2 edge in total team blocks and recorded 49 digs. Lynn finished the night with 42 digs.

The Mocs offense was once again led by senior outside hitter Kate Stromberg (Lexington, Ky.) as she recorded nine kills, five digs, two aces, three blocks and hit .400, while junior right side hitter Kendall Marotti (LaBelle, Fla.) added nine kills, three blocks and hit .333 in the win.

In addition to Stromberg, Marotti, Brady and Mostert, sophomore outside hitter Brindl Langley (Camas, Wash.) finished with five kills, three aces and nine digs in the win.

The Mocs jumped out a 2-0 lead in the opening set and led 8-5 when the Fighting Knights (4-4, 0-1 SSC) used a 5-0 scoring run to take 10-8 lead. The Mocs, though, would respond with a 9-2 run capped by back-to-back kills from Stromberg and Langley to take a 17-12 lead. LU, who has dropped three straight matches after opening the season with a 4-1 record, would use a 5-3 run to pull within 20-17 following a kill by Elyse Fleck. That would be as close as LU would get as the Mocs scored five of the set's final seven points to earn a 25-19 win. FSC hit .375 in the opening set and forced LU into five attack errors and three service errors as they hit .233.

Unlike the first set, Lynn jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, before FSC scored three consecutive points to take a 3-2 lead following a Mostert kill. Both teams would take turns holding the lead until the Mocs turned a 5-5 tie into an 8-6 lead. After Lynn retied the set at 8, the Mocs used 6-3 run to push out to a 14-11 advantage. The Fighting Knights would score five of the next seven points to pull within 17-16 following an ace by Marissa Tandron. From that point, the Mocs would rally as they closed the set by scoring eight of the final nine points, including clinching the set win on a kill by Marotti. In the set, the Mocs hit .424 as they had 16 kills and just two attack errors, while holding LU to an .091 hitting percentage.

The third set was another back-and-forth affair as it featured five ties and two lead changes. The Mocs would get the upper hand early as they jumped out to a 7-3 lead, before LU responded with a 4-1 run to pull within 8-7. The Fighting Knights run was aided by three Moccasin errors. After FSC answered with a 3-1 run to push its lead to 11-8, LU would use a 6-3 run to tie the set at 14. That would be as close as the Fighting Knights would get as the Mocs used a two straight kills from Mostert to jump start a 7-1 run to push out to a 21-15 edge. After a Moccasin attack error stopped the run, FSC would use two LU errors, a kill by Marotti and an ace on match point by senior defensive specialist Jasmine Childress (Muncie, Ind.) to close out the set and seal its 25-16 set win and its 3-0 match victory.

Along with the combined seven blocks from Mostert and Brady, the Mocs defense was paced by a match-high 14 digs from senior libero Catherine Brusie (North Branch, Mich.) and 12 digs from redshirt senior setter Ali Skayhan (Beaverton, Ore.). Skayhan also added 35 assists to post her sixth double-double of the season. 

Lynn, who entered the game hitting .250 as a team on the season, finished the match with a .109 hitting percentage as they recorded just 30 kills and had 19 attack errors and also added seven service errors in the setback.

The Fighting Knights were led by Fleck, who recorded 10 kills on the night. Fleck entered the match averaging nearly four kills per set on the season. In addition to Fleck, Katie Knight had seven kills and 10 digs and Tandron added four kills, eight digs, 23 assists and hit a team-best .400.

FSC will have little time to savor Friday's victory as they remain at home to host Florida Tech on Saturday, Sept. 20 at 4 p.m. The Panthers (5-4, 0-1 SSC) opened its league schedule on Friday night with a four-set loss at Saint Leo.