Volleyball Returns Home, Posts Win Over Eckerd
Pietkiewicz, Stromberg record 15 kills apiece in victory
LAKELAND - Florida Southern Volleyball kept its perfect home record in Sunshine State Conference play intact here Saturday afternoon as the Moccasins posted a four-set victory over Eckerd (25-20, 25-22, 22-25, 25-22) at Jenkins Field House.
The win, which improved the Mocs to 11-5 overall and 3-1 in the SSC, extended FSC's win streak in Jenkins to four straight matches dating to last season as the Mocs first home match this season against Minnesota State-Moorhead was played at the Hollis Wellness Center.
"Our players were serious tonight. They were focused and confident after last night's match with Tampa," Mocs head coach Jill Stephens said following the nearly two-hour match. "We were ready to get back out and play and get better."
Saturday's match was won by the Mocs thanks to its serving as they recorded seven aces and had only four service errors for four sets.
"I thought our serving tonight was great. Eckerd has some really good attackers and I thought we did a good job at limiting those players with our strong serving," the Mocs coach added.
The Mocs, who have now played four sets in five of its last seven matches, was paced by the offensive play of senior outside hitter Anne Pietkiewicz (Winter Park, Fla.) and sophomore outside hitter Kate Stromberg (Lexington, Kent.). Those two players combined for 30 kills, 26 digs, three service aces and hit a combined .283 for the match.
Pietkiewicz had 15 kills and 14 digs for her fifth double-double of the season and hit .324, while Stromberg added 15 kills and 12 digs and hit .250 for her seventh double-double on the year. Over her last four matches, Pietkiewicz is averaging 3.20 kills and 2.20 digs per set and is hitting .243.
"Anne has really stepped up and is showing great senior leadership this year," said Stephens, who improved to 261-129 at the helm of her alma mater. "She has been really consistent and has become a go-to player."
In addition to Pietkiewicz and Stromberg, junior middle blocker Dominique Hale (Kingman, Ariz.) and freshman middle blocker Kayshia Brady (Crescent City, Fla.) combined for 17 kills, four blocks and a .352 hitting percentage in the win. Hale finished with a career-high nine kills and added two blocks, while Brady had eight kills and two blocks for the match.
"Kayshia and Dominique really played well tonight," said Stephens.
In the first set, the Mocs jumped out to a 13-8 lead, before the Tritons (9-6 overall, 3-1 SSC) used a 9-5 scoring run to pull within 18-17 following an assisted block by Alex Laton and Olivia Fraser. Eckerd, though, would get no closer as the Mocs scored seven of the set's final 10 points to earn the 25-20 win and take a 1-0 lead in the match.
Unlike the first set, the second fight was a dogfight as the set featured eight ties and five lead changes. The Tritons scored the first two points of the set, but the Mocs responded with an 8-4 run to take an 8-6 lead. From that point, Eckerd would fight back and use a 10-6 run to take a 16-14 lead. The lead was shortlived though as the Mocs responded with a 6-3 scoring run capped by a Pietkiewicz kill to take a 20-19 lead. EC tied the set at 20 on a kill by Laton, but the Mocs were able to hold on by scoring five of the final seven points to earn a 25-22 win and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
The Mocs jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the third set with freshman Airelle Fernandez (Pacifica, Calif.) serving, but the Tritons would respond by scoring eight of the next 10 points to tie the set at 8. The Mocs would once again push its lead to as much as six points at 16-10 following a block by Brady and Gabby Fernandez. At the point, EC turned the set over to Ali McAlvany as the sophomore right side hitter recorded four of her match-high 25 kills during the Tritons 15-6 run to close out the set and force a fourth set.
"Ali was unbelievable tonight," the Mocs coach added.
McAlvany finished with 25 kills on the night, including 15 in the final two sets alone. In addition to the 25 kills, she added 10 digs and hit .370 in the loss.
In the fourth set, the Tritons kept things close thanks to the play of McAlvany and Lindsey Biggs. Biggs, who finished with 13 kills and 12 digs in the match, had five kills in the fourth set. The Mocs jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the set, but the visitors responded with a 14-6 run to take a 16-14 lead following a service ace from Kaleigh Humphrey. FSC, though, would battle back to tie the set three times, before scoring three of the final points, including sealing the victory on an attack error by Boggs at match point.
Humphey led the way defensively for the Tritons with 23 digs, while Laton added eight kills and three blocks in the loss.
The Mocs were outblocked, 9-5, but held a 71-70 edge in digs for the match. Airelle Fernandez recorded a team-high 15 for the Mocs, while junior setter Ali Skayhan (Beaverton, Ore.) posted her 10th double-double of the season as she had 50 assists to go along with 11 digs.
FSC returns to action next weekend as they embark on a two-match SSC road swing beginning on Friday at Rollins and concluding on Saturday at Florida Tech. The Rollins match will begin at 7 p.m. in Winter Park, while the Florida Tech match is slated for 4 p.m. in Melbourne. The Mocs will return home to Jenkins next Sunday as they host Lincoln Memorial in a 2 p.m. non-conference match.