TAMPA, FL - Nicole Mattson recorded a match-high 20 kills, but Florida Southern College volleyball could not overcome an early deficit in a 3-0 loss at No. 8 Tampa on Friday night at the Bob Martinez Center. The Moccasins (11-7, 6-4 SSC) were unable to hand the Spartans (17-1, 10-0) their first loss in Sunshine State Conference play as UT held Southern to just .180 on the attack despite another incredible performance from Mattson, who hit .383 on the night.
The loss snapped Florida Southern's five-match winning streak while the Spartans picked up their 11th-straight victory and improved to 8-1 at home on the season. The Moccasins wrap up the week at Rollins on Saturday.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Tampa set the tone early with a 25-14 first-set win. Although the Mocs were able to keep it close in the early stages, the Spartans used a 6-0 run in the closing moments of the first set to turn a slim 17-13 lead into a 24-13 advantage. It would prove to be too much for Florida Southern to overcome as Sorrel Houghton recorded a kill to make the final 25-14. The Moccasins trailed by just three (13-10) at one point but were outscored 15-1 over the final 16 points.
- In the second set, UT jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Florida Southern reeled off six-straight points to take a 6-5 edge. Four of FSC's six points during the run came via Tampa attack errors and helped the Mocs build a one-point lead (8-7). However, Tampa rallied back and went on an 8-3 run to take a 15-11 advantage. Rachael Martin put down a kill on the next point to pull FSC within three, but it would not be enough as the Spartans took a 25-20 second-set win.
- With their backs to the wall, the Moccasins responded well in the third set as they stayed neck-and-neck with the Spartans until late in the set. Florida Southern was able to open an 18-13 lead and pushed its advantage to 21-15 just moments later. But Tampa stormed back with six in a row to tie things at 21-21 and was able to stave off defeat when the Mocs had set-point at 24-23. Florida Southern was able to hold off the Spartans for several points, but UT was able to notch back-to-back kills to make the final 28-26 and give Tampa a 3-0 win.
- In addition to her 20 kills, Mattson also recorded nine digs and a block. Bethany Besancenez had 24 assists and 13 digs, while Gabby Fresh and Makena Wilson each tallied nine digs of their own. Katie McKiel and Sorrell Houghton led the Spartans with 14 and 11 kills, respectively. Tampa hit .287 on the attack and out-blocked the Moccasins by a final tally of 7-6.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Florida Southern dropped to 57-70 all-time against Tampa, including a 13-37 record when facing the Spartans on the road.
- Mattson's performance marked her eighth 20-kill performance of the season. She has tallied 1,437 career kills and needs 60 more to move into fifth in FSC history. Besancenez increased her career assist total to 4,667. She needs 1,063 more to set the all-time school record, currently held by Jordan McAfee.
- Florida Southern finished the weekend with a trip to Rollins for a 4 p.m. matchup on Saturday. The Mocs will travel to Eckerd on Oct. 9, before returning home for contests against Barry (Oct. 12) and Lynn (Oct. 13).