LAKELAND, FL - Florida Southern College volleyball won its fifth NCAA Division II South Region title with a 3-1 victory over No. 17 West Florida on Saturday at Jenkins Field House. The No. 21 Moccasins (28-6) came from behind after the Argonauts (30-7) won the first sent, and punched their ticket to the NCAA National Quarterfinals for the first time since 1991. Four players finished with at least 10 kills for the Mocs, who will head to Pensacola next week for the NCAA Championships.
Florida Southern's victory was its 21st-straight win, the second-longest in school history. Nicole Mattson (19), Anna Tovo (17), Sydney Marshall (13), and Allie Geary (11) each tallied double-digit kills, and the Mocs hit .401 in a dominant offensive effort.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• West Florida started off the first set on fire, racing out to an 8-3 lead. However, Florida Southern rallied to cut the deficit to just one (13-12) on Tovo's kill midway through the set. The Argos were able to maintain a slim lead until late in the set when the Mocs tied things at 21-21. UWF was able to score four of the next five points to take a 25-22 set victory and a 1-0 match lead.
• The Moccasins were able to get out to a 5-3 lead early on in the second set but the Argos came back to tie things up until midway through when Florida Southern used a 3-0 run to take a 12-9 lead. Leading by four points (18-14) the Mocs would go on to score seven of the final 10 points for a 25-17 second-set win to tie things up at 1-1.
• The Argonauts took an early lead in the third set and were up by three (15-12) midway through until the Moccasins scored three in a row to tie things up. With the score tied at 20-20, Florida Southern ripped off four points in a row to take a 24-20 edge. West Florida was able to get within one (24-23), but Tovo put down another kill to give the Mocs a 25-23 victory and a 2-1 match lead.
• In the fourth set, both squads would treat the crowd of 700-plus to an intense back-and-forth battle until midway through, when the Moccasins used a 4-0 run to open up a 16-13 lead. West Florida would slice the deficit to one point (18-17). However, a 4-1 run by the Mocs created a 22-18 cushion, and another set-clinching kill by Tovo gave Florida Southern the South Regional title.
• Florida Southern hit .401 on the night while West Florida hit .314, and the Moccasins finished with five blocks to UWF's four. Gabby Fresh (15), Tovo (14), and Mattson (12) each tallied double-digit digs, while Geary and Tovo each had three block assists.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern improved to 28-33 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including 27-26 in the South Regional. The Moccasins have now won five NCAA South Region championships in their history, and also moved to 11-6 all-time against West Florida.
• The Moccasins' current 21-match winning streak is the second-longest win streak in school history, surpassing the 1989 squad's win streak of 21. The school record for consecutive wins is 33, set by the 1990 Moccasins.
• Besancenez pushed her career assist total to 3,815 and moved into fifth place in school history. Tovo increased her career kill total to 1,574. She needs 117 more to tie head coach Jill Stephens for third in school history. Allie Geary increased her career block total to 374. She currently ranks sixth in school history in blocks.
• Florida Southern will play on Thursday, Dec. 7 in the NCAA National Championship quarterfinals. The Moccasins' opponent has yet to be determined, as the NCAA will re-seed teams following the conclusion of all regional tournaments. Complete NCAA Championship information can be found at NCAA.com.