ST. PETERSBURG - Florida Southern continued its hot play in Sunshine State Conference action here Friday evening as the Moccasins posted a hard-fought four-set victory over Eckerd (25-19, 25-20, 19-25, 25-20) at the McArthur Center on the Eckerd campus.
With the victory, the Moccasins remain undefeated in league play as they are now 3-0 in the SSC and improved its overall record to 7-3 overall as they head into Saturday's 4 p.m. match-up at No. 1-ranked Tampa. The Spartans, who have won 38 consecutive SSC matches dating to 2011, improved to 9-1 overall and 2-0 in the SSC following its three-set home win Friday over Saint Leo.
In Friday's match, the Mocs prevailed thanks to a season-high 12 service aces, including four in the fourth and final set and an offense that hit .258 and had four players record eight or more kills, including junior middle blockerKayshia Brady (Welaka, Fla.) leading the way with a team-high 13 kills and hitting .385 on the night. For the match, FSC hit .258 as a team.
In addition to Brady, junior right side hitter Kendall Marotti (LaBelle, Fla.) posted her third double-double of the season as she had 10 kills and 10 digs and added four blocks, two aces and hit .400 in the win, while three Mocs recorded eight kills on the night.
One of those Mocs that recorded eight kills was sophomore middle blocker Rachel Mostert (Clearwater, Fla.) as she finished the night with eight kills and four blocks. Along with Mostert, senior outside hitter Kate Stromberg (Lexington, Ky.) had eight kills, six digs and matched her career high with four aces and sophomore outside hitterBrindl Langley (Camas, Wash.) added eight kills, seven digs and two aces to help the Mocs to its third straight victory on the year.
In the opening set, the Mocs jumped out to a 6-4 lead, before the Tritons used a 4-2 scoring run to tie the set at 8 following a kill by McAlvany. The Mocs, though, would answer with a 5-2 run to push its lead to 13-10. The run was capped by a Langley ace. After a kill by Nelson and back-to-back aces by Gabriella Guimaraes tied the set at 13, the Mocs retook the lead on kill by Brady. After the team's traded points, the Mocs put some distance between themselves and the Tritons as they used a 7-2 run capped by a Langley kill to turn a 15-all tie into a 22-17 lead. After two kills from Nelson brought Eckerd within 23-19, the Mocs would close out the set by scoring the final two points, including Langley sealing the 25-19 win with an ace. In the set, the Mocs hit .334 and had three aces.
Eckerd jumped out to a 7-5 lead in the second set, before the Mocs used an 8-2 run capped by an ace from redshirt senior setter Ali Skayhan (Beaverton, Ore.) to take a 13-9 lead. The lead would grow to as much as eight points at 20-12 before Eckerd responded with a 7-2 scoring run to drop the Mocs lead to 22-19. That would be as close as the Tritons would get, though, as the Mocs used a service error by Guimaraes and a kill by Langley to push its lead to 24-19 and then after a Katie Arnette kill moved Eckerd within 24-20, Skayhan sealed the Mocs 25-20 win with a kill. In the second set, the Mocs had five aces, but were outhit, .333 to .290.
The third set was another back-and-forth affair as it featured 10 ties and four lead changes. Neither team could muster much of a lead in the early going until the Mocs scored three straight points to turn a 6-all tie into a 9-6 lead. That lead, though, would be shortlived as Eckerd used an 11-5 run to a 9-6 deficit into a 17-14 lead. The run was capped by an ace from Kaitlyn Sibson. The Mocs would try and mount a comeback as they pulled within four points at 23-19 following a kill by Marotti, but could get no closer as the Tritons scored the set's final two points to seal its 25-19 win and force a fourth set. For the second straight set, FSC was outhit as the Mocs hit .200 to Eckerd's .207. In addition, the Tritons recorded four of its eight aces for the match in the set.
Leading 2-1, the Mocs opened the fourth set by scoring the first two points and led 5-3 when the Tritons used a 5-3 scoring run to tie the set at 8. After the team's trade points, the Mocs answered with a 5-1 run to take a 14-10 lead. The lead, though, went away quickly as Eckerd responded with an 8-1 run to take an 18-15 lead. The run was aided by five Moccasin attack errors. After a timeout, the Mocs used a 5-0 run capped by a Mostert kill to take a 20-18 lead. Following a kill by Emily Schadow that pulled Eckerd within a point at 20-19, the Mocs would close out the set and match by scoring five of the final six points, including capping the 25-20 set win and 3-1 match victory with an ace by Marotti. In the set, FSC was outhit, .188 to .172, but recorded four aces and four team blocks, while Eckerd didn't record an ace and had three total team blocks.
The Mocs defense, which got eight total team blocks and 46 digs in the win, was paced by 15 digs from senior libero Catherine Brusie (North Branch, Mich.), while Skayhan had her streak of six consecutive double-doubles snapped in the win as she finished with 43 assists, six digs and five kills. She also hit .400, had three aces and two blocks on the night despite not recording a double-double for the first time since Flagler match on Sept. 6.
Eckerd, who fell to 7-5 overall and 0-4 in the SSC, was paced by the play of Lauryn Nelson as she finished with a match-high 17 kills and hit .517, while Ali McAlvany added 10 kills, 12 digs and four blocks, including three solo blocks in the loss.
The Tritons, who hit .234 on the night, outdug the Mocs, 47-46, but committed two more attack errors (21-19) and one more service errors (8-7) than the Mocs in the loss. It was just the fourth time this season and first time in SSC play that the Mocs were outdug in a match. They entered the night leading the SSC and standing 22nd in Division II in digs per set (18.00).