Sept. 10, 2009

Courtesy of West Florida Athletics

PENSACOLA, Fla. – West Florida earned an especially satisfying 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-17) victory over No. 17 Nova Southeastern, improving to 5-5 with the win. The Argos avenged last season’s 2-3 loss to Nova at the South Region finals, and were led by juniors Chelsea Wilhoite (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny HS) and Jamie Nichols (Crawfordville, Fla./Wakulla HS) with 12 kills each.

“That’s a monkey we’ve had on our back for 292 days, and I couldn’t be happier about earning the right to let it. It doesn’t take last year away, but it takes a little bit of the bite away,” said head coach Melissa Wolter.

“I thought for the first time since we’ve come together as a group, that was the most confident and relaxed that I’ve seen our team play,” commented Wolter. “We talked in the locker room before the match about outplaying Nova, and I think defensively we did exactly that. We dug some balls tonight that I have not seen our team dig since we started the season.”

Wilhoite swung at .385 on the match, while Patricia Gandolfo (Porto Alegre, Brazil/Missouri State-West Plains CC) posted a .400 clip on nine kills. Kara Gonzalez (St. Augustine, Fla./St. Augustine HS) had an outstanding match tallying eight kills at .300, stuffing her opponents on five occasions. Kimberly Clark (St. Petersburg, Fla./Hillsborough CC) led with 17 digs, as Tricia Tirabassi (Kenosha, Wis./Tremper HS) dished out 34 assists. The Argos as a whole outhit the Sharks .275 to .175.

The Sharks put the first point on the board, but West Florida took a solid lead on a three point service run by Nichols. Nova made several comeback attempts, but the Argos controlled the remainder of the set and closed out on a service ace by Gonzalez.

NSU again took the first point in set two, but this time took a lead that looked to be out of the Argos’ reach. A Wilhoite kill gave UWF the serve at 14-17, and the team chipped away at the lead and tied on Wilhoite’s ace. The teams battled to 23-23, and the Argos took advantage of a Sharks’ service error that led to a victory on a kill from Nichols.

The Argos found themselves in a familiar 2-0 situation, and surrendered the first three points to Nova. West Florida, however, took a 9-8 lead on the swing of Gandolfo and never looked back. The Argos’ offense came alive, and the Sharks appeared to fall apart as Nichols again went three-point service run that included an ace. UWF cruised to a 25-17 win, and sealed the match on a block by Gonzalez and Clark.

West Florida continues action in the Hemingway’s Regional Crossover on Friday, playing their first match of the day against No. 5 Tampa at 2pm. The Argos will finish the day at 7pm, facing region opponent Saint Leo. Both matches will be available online through live stats and broadcast.