WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. – Nicole Mattson led the Moccasins with 20 kills and added 18 digs, while Gabby Fresh and Bethany Besancenez each hit the 20-dig mark, but Florida Southern dropped a four-set decision to No. 16 Palm Beach Atlantic. The Moccasins (19-10, 11-7 Sunshine State Conference) took the first set 25-20, but the Sailfish (26-4, 15-4) won the next three, 25-21, 26-24, and 25-22 to claim the victory. That result gave the two teams a season split after the Moccasins had defeated the Sailfish 3-1 in Lakeland on September 28.
In addition to Mattson's 20 kills, the Moccasins got 10 from Rachael Martin and nine apiece from Tierra Porter and Whitney Drost. Fresh led the Mocs with 23 digs, and Besancenez had 20 to go along with her 46 assists. The Moccasins hit .194, and the Sailfish hit .222.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Florida Southern scored the first two points of the first set and led 4-1 on two kills by Mattson, and one each from Porter and Buse Ene. The Sailfish cut it to 4-3 on a pair of attack errors by the Moccasins before the lead went back to three on kills by Porter and Drost. Again the Sailfish cut the deficit to one, but again the Mocs re-grouped to push their lead back to three, and eventually four when Ene delivered an ace to make it 10-6.
- With the gap still four points at 11-7, Palm Beach Atlantic put together its first sustained run by either team by scoring five consecutive points, with Maddie Span giving the Sailfish their first lead of the day. The PBA run went to 8-2 before the Mocs scored six in a row to reclaim the lead. The first three of those points came on kills by Mattson, Drost, and Porter, but the Sailfish helped them with three subsequent attack errors. The Sailfish never got closer than three after that, and the Mocs put the set away with two more errors committed on the other side of the net for the final 25-20 margin.
- The two teams alternated the first six points in the second set, with Florida Southern scoring first (each time on kills by Mattson) and PBA following each time to leave the score tied 3-3. From there, neither team led by more than two until the Sailfish went on a 7-1 run that erased an 8-7 lead by the Moccasins. That was sparked by three kills from Sophie Hoekstra and two by Ally Rohn.
- Armed with that 14-9 advantage, the Sailfish never lost it, though the Moccasins cut it down to two on three different occasions. The last was 23-21 on a kill by Mattson and a PBA error before the Sailfish secured a match-tying 25-21 set win on a kill by Jennie Anderson and an attack error by the Moccasins.
- In set three, the Sailfish jumped out to a 5-1 lead, were up by six at one point (13-7) and still led by four (19-15) when the Moccasins rallied. Kills by Porter, Drost, and Martin, along with a PBA error helped the Mocs cut the deficit down to 20-19, but kills by Hoekstra gave the Sailfish a little more breathing room at 22-19. This time, the Mocs were able to grab the lead with four straight points, tying the score on an ace by Drost, and going ahead 23-22 on another Martin kill.
- After PBA tied the score at 23, Martin put the Mocs within a point of taking a 2-1 lead in the match, but a service error and an attack error put the Sailfish back in front, and a kill by Rohn ended the set for PBA, 26-24.
- The fourth set went back and forth with 13 ties and nine lead changes, but it was Florida Southern that held the first lead of more than a single point at 9-5. That came by virtue of a 5-0 run, fueled by three PBA errors and kills by Ene and Mattson. The Mocs held the lead until the Sailfish ran off five in a row to go on top 12-11, with Carly Middleton providing the go-ahead point on a service ace.
- Neither side could go ahead by more than two for several minutes after that, but the Sailfish finally clinched the set and match by claiming three of the final four points. A kill by Martin got Florida Southern within 24-22 before an error by the Mocs gave PBA the final point of the match, and a 25-22 set victory.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Florida Southern is now 10-9 all-time against Palm Beach Atlantic but has lost the last six meetings in West Palm Beach.
- Mattson's career kill total now stands at 1,612, bringing her within three of Anna Tovo for fourth on the school's all-time list. Jill Stephens is third with 1,691. Her 18 digs on Saturday give here 1,271 in her career after she moved into 10th place on the Mocs' all-time list Friday night.
- Besancenez pushed her career assist total to 5,134 in her chase to overtake Jordan McAfee for first place in that category. McAfee had 5,729 in her career. With her 20 digs, Besancenez moved into eighth place in the team record book and needs just six more to hit seventh.
Florida Southern returns home for its final two matches, next Friday and Saturday against Rollins and Tampa. Friday night's match begins at 7 p.m., and Saturday's match versus Tampa is at 4 p.m.