Sept. 12, 2009

PENSACOLA, Fla. - West Florida volleyball made program history on Saturday afternoon, outlasting a grueling five sets with No. 11 Florida Southern for a 3-2 (21-25, 25-21, 14-25, 25-16, 21-19) victory. The Argos battled it out with the Mocs on the final day of the Hemingway's Regional Crossover to finish the tournament 2-2. Kimberly Clark (St. Petersburg, Fla./Hillsborough CC) earned her third consecutive All-Tournament Team selection for her performances over the weekend.

"I couldn't be happier for our team," said Wolter. "We're making incremental improvements on a match to match basis, losing in four twice yesterday, and pulling out a marathon win in five today was the biggest step we've taken so far. Florida Southern has an outstanding program, and it was a match that neither team should have lost but I'm happy that our team earned the win."

Two Argos had double-doubles in the completion, as Clark collected 13 kills and 18 digs while Tricia Tirabassi (Kenosha, Wis./Tremper HS) collected a season-high 52 assists and 13 digs. Patricia Gandolfo (Porto Alegre, Brazil/Missouri State - West Plains CC) led the offense with 14 kills, though Lindsay Homme (Willowbrook, Ill./ Hinsdale Central HS) led in effiency with a .368 clip on eight kills.

The competition began in the first set, but a service run from the Mocs' Kelly Sherman allowed for six FSC points that included two aces. Down by six, Mailande Parker (Pensacola, Fla./B.T. Washington HS) earned the UWF sideout in hopes of a comeback. West Florida, however, surrendered to Florida Southern for a 21-25 defeat.

Tirabassi serves allowed the Argos to jump out ahead of the Mocs in set two, earning a 3-0 lead. The lead changed three times before Valissia Brathwaite entered the game for some offense spark off the bench, scoring a kill that gave Clark the serve. The senior went on a six point run for a 20-17 lead. Cailtin Schaffstall (Overland Park, Kan./Johnson County CC) added cushion that included a service ace, and Jamie Nichols (Crawfordville, Fla./Wakulla HS) scored the kill for set point and a 25-21 victory.

The third set appeared detrimental for the Argos, as FSC's Lauren Huber went on a nine point run mid-set. At 16-4, Gandolfo earned the side-out and West Florida began to stage their comeback attempt. Tirabassi's service ace looked to be promising at 20-12, but a Florida Southern timeout rattled the Argos who dropped the set 14-25.

"I think we've lost so many tough matches, and Coach told us in the locker room that we're always the team that gets beat in a tough set, and then loses the next one only to lose the whole match," said Clark. "Our team was sick of it, and used it as a sort of revenge. We used this match as revenge against any team we've played so far and lost that way to."

A refreshed Argo squad opened set four with the first point. A Florida Southern four-point run was unable to rattle West Florida who pulled from behind for a 25-16 win closed out by the serves of Gandolfo. Homme recorded the final two kills of the set that tied that match 2-2.

West Florida made a statement in the fifth set, scoring the first two points on kills by Brathwaite and Clark. The Mocs, however, took charge and reached eight first. Down by five, Homme again scored two kills to give West Florida control of the serve. The Argos chipped away at the lead, and tied the set at 11 before Florida Southern again took a two point lead. The teams collectively reach match point seven times before the Argos made their mark. At 19-19, Clark and Homme orchestrated a monumental block that gave West Florida a 20-19 lead. Brathwaite made the difference, scoring the final kill for a 21-19 victory.

The Argos take the court again on Tuesday, this time on the road at Montevallo. First serve is slated for 7pm.