LAKELAND, FL - Nicole Mattson and Rachael Martin each tallied double-digit kills as Florida Southern College volleyball snagged a huge upset over No. 9 Tampa on Senior Day at Jenkins Field House on Saturday. The Moccasins (21-10, 13-7 SSC) knocked off the Sunshine State Conference's top team as it took a 2-0 lead on the Spartans (27-4, 17-3) and hung on in an extra-points fourth set to come up with a massive 3-1 victory.
Florida Southern, which was slotted at No. 4 in the most recent NCAA South Region rankings, is all but assured of advancing to the NCAA Tournament for a ninth-straight season. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show airs at 10 p.m. on Sunday night at NCAA.com.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Florida Southern snagged momentum from the very onset of the match and, fueled by a raucous crowd, jumped out to an 11-6 lead in the first set. Tampa used a 5-1 run to close the gap to just a single point (12-11), but the Mocs with a 7-2 scoring stretch to push their advantage to 19-13. It would be all the momentum Southern would need as Martin closed things out with the set-clinching kill for a 25-19 first-set win.
- The second set also saw Florida Southern get out to a big early lead (10-4) before the Spartans rallied for three-straight points. After several points back and forth, the Moccasins connected for six-straight to turn a slim 15-13 lead into an insurmountable 21-13 advantage and held off a late UT rally for a 25-22 second-set win.
- The third set had Tampa come out on top, 25-20, but the road was not easy for the Spartans. Despite racing out to a 9-2 advantage, Tampa was put to the test by a Florida Southern squad that rallied from a late nine-point deficit (19-10) to close within three at 23-20. However, the Spartans scored the final two points of the set to come up with the win and make it 2-1.
- In the fourth and final set, momentum swung drastically throughout as the teams traded leads several times. It looked as if Tampa would force a fifth set when it held a 23-20 edge in the late stages and had set point at 24-22, but the Mocs stayed alive by staving off set-point three times before striking for three points in a row at the end to come up with a thrilling 28-26 fourth-set win.
- Mattson led all players with 20 kills while hitting .360 on the attack, while Martin's 15 kills came on the strength of a .462 hitting percentage. Whitney Drost had eight kills and four service aces, Buse Ene and Tierra Porter added seven kills each. Bethany Besancenez had 46 assists and 16 digs, while Gabby Fresh (17), Ene (10), and Mattson (10) also had double-digit dig totals. Tampa was led on offense by Sorrel Houghton's 17 kills.
- As a team, Florida Southern hit .289 while Tampa hit .268. The Moccasins finished with nine service aces to UT's four and the Spartans finished with a 7-3 edge in blocks, but had four block errors compared to none for the Mocs.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Florida Southern improved to 58-70 all-time against Tampa, including a 32-28 mark when facing the Spartans at home. The victory helped the Moccasins earn a split in the season series against the Spartans, and put FSC's home record at an incredible 13-1 this season.
- Mattson's career kills total now stands at 1,643, bringing her striking distance of former Moccasin all-American and head coach Jill Stephens is for third in school history. Stephens finished her career with 1,691. Mattson's 10 digs on Saturday give her 1,293. She is ninth in school history in digs.
- Besancenez pushed her career assist total to 5,212 in her chase to overtake Jordan McAfee for first place in that category. McAfee had 5,729 in her career. With her 16 digs on Saturday, Besancenez (1,364) moved closer to sixth place in school history in digs.
- Prior to Saturday's contest, the Moccasins honored their senior class. This year's five-member class consists of Besancenez, Drost, Fresh, Mattson, and Makena Wilson.
- Florida Southern will find out its NCAA Tournament fate on Sunday night during the NCAA Selection Show. The show will begin at 10 p.m. at NCAA.com.