BOCA RATON - Florida Southern continued its strong offensive play here Friday afternoon at the Courtyard by Marriott/Lynn Invitational as the Moccasins picked up a three-set sweep over Valdosta State (25-18, 25-22, 25-13) at the deHoernle Center to move to 2-0 in the tournament.
The victory was the Mocs' second consecutive three-set win in the tournament as they swept Assumption to open play Friday. With the win, FSC improves to 3-4, while VSU suffered its first loss this season and fell to 5-1.
“It was a really good day for the Mocs. We played some consistent sideout volleyball," Mocs coach Jill Stephens said. "We're learning to make fewer errors and still be aggressive."
Much like the match earlier in the day against Assumption, FSC brought its offensive game as the Mocs recorded 46 kills, hit .327 as a team and held a 10-3 edge in blocks. For the match, three players hit over .300 and five players had at least six kills in the 71-minute match. Against Assumption, the Mocs had 43 kills and hit .407 as a team.
Sophomore outside hitter Kate Stromberg (Lexington, Kent.) was the leader offensively for FSC against VSU as she recorded 16 kills and hit a season-best .343. In addition, Stromberg added two service aces, three assists and three block assists.
Along with Stromberg, sophomore right side hitter Gabby Fernandez (Tampa, Fla.) added eight kills and two aces, while junior setter Ali Skayhan (Beaverton, Ore.) and senior outside hitter Anne Pietkiewicz (Winter Park, Fla.) each added seven kills. Skayhan recorded her fifth double-double as she had 31 assists and 11 digs and hit .778, while Pietkiewicz had eight digs and four block assists.
In the match, both teams played even in the early going of the first set as there were four ties until FSC used a 12-6 run to turn a 6-6 tie in to an 18-12 lead. The Lady Blazers would pull within 19-15, before the Mocs scored six of the set’s final nine points to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
The Mocs jumped in front 3-0 and led 10-9 in the second set when VSU used a 5-2 run to take a 14-12 lead. From that point, the Mocs used a 5-3 run capped by a kill from Pietkiewicz to take a 19-17 lead. VSU would battle back and forced ties at 19, 20 and 21 before FSC ended the set scoring four of the final five points, including three kills by Stromberg, to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
In the third set, VSU scored the first two points, but that would as close as they would get the rest of the set as FSC used a 10-3 run to take a 10-5 lead. The Mocs lead grew to as much as 23-11 following an assisted block by Pietkiewicz and senior middle blocker Morgan Kosterlitz (Dunedin, Fla.). After a kill from VSU's Lelalelei Nomura stopped FSC's 6-0 scoring run, the Mocs closed out the match by scoring two of the final three points, both of which came on kills from Kosterlitz, to seal the victory.
Kosterlitz finished with a season-high six kills, hit .750 for the second consecutive match and tied a career high with five blocks. Junior middle blocker Dominique Hale (Kingman, Ariz.) also turned in a strong game at the net as she added four blocks in the win.
"I'm very proud of our team and how they bounced back today and learned from last week," said Stephens, who improved to 253-128 in her 12th year at her alma mater.
VSU was led by seven kills from Nikki McDaniel, while Katie Onushko added five kills in the loss. On defense, VSU's Chelsea Luttfring recorded a match-high 17 digs as both teams had 40 digs in the match.
While FSC had a strong offensive showing, the Lady Blazers finished with just 28 kills on 93 attacks and hit .086 as a team, including hitting .000 in the first set.
FSC will look to win its third straight match on Saturday and move to .500 on the season as they conclude play in the Lynn Invitational with an 11:30 a.m. match against Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.