Florida Southern tops West Florida
Fernandez records season-high 16 kills to help Moccasins win
TAMPA -- Gabby Fernandez came off the bench after the first set and matched her season-high of 16 kills to lead Florida Southern to a five-set win against West Florida, 19-25, 25-18, 18-25, 25-17, 15-13, at the NCAA tournament.
The win keeps the Moccasins' season alive, putting them in Friday night's semifinal against top-seeded Tampa. Now 18-12 for the season, the Moccasins halted West Florida's 10-match winning streak and ended the Argonauts' season at 25-9.
Fernandez hit .406 for the match to go with her 16 kills. Seven of them came in the fourth set with the Moccasins facing a must-win situation, trailing 2-1 in sets. Fittingly enough, it was Fernandez who scored the final point of the match to seal the Moccasins' win.
Lauren Huber had 12 kills for Florida Southern and Kate Stromberg and Anne Pietkiewicz each added 10. Anna Niebuhr led the defensive effort with 20 digs. Ali Skayhan handed out 42 assists and tallied 15 digs.
West Florida started the match with five consecutive points and never trailed in winning the first set. After scoring the first three points of the second set the Moccasins did the same thing to even the match at one set each. West Florida broke a 4-4 tie with seven unanswered points and went on to take the third set. Seven consecutive points by the Moccasins to start the fourth set put them en route to claiming the set, as the Argonauts never got closer than four points.
Neither team had a lead bigger than two points in the fifth set until the Moccasins scored four consecutive points to overcome an 11-10 West Florida lead. After the Argonauts trimmed the lead to 14-13, Fernandez delivered the final point with her 16th kill.