Rocha Hits .455 and Bonter Connects on 11 Kills in the Win
SAINT LEO, Fla. – Don't give up on them yet!Box Score
In this rollercoaster ride of a 2010 season, the Saint Leo volleyball team did exactly what they needed to do in order to keep their postseason hopes alive as they trounced visiting Lynn University 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 26-24) in Sunshine State Conference action at the Bowman Center on Friday night. The win proved to be one of the Lions more overpowering performances all year, and it came at the perfect time.
After taking their first lead at 10-9 in set one, the Lions dominated the remainder of the game, sparked by an amazing service ace from senior Bruna Rocha that put the Lions up 11-9. Rocha blasted her patented jump-serve clear across the court where it looked as if it was going to travel far past the back line. With the Lynn (20-9, 11-5 SSC) players moving out of the way, the ball curved down and caught the back line, surprising everyone in the Bowman Center and giving the Lions the point.
Another set of great serves came from the right arm of newly-minted libero Corey Ryan as she included an ace into a four-point run where the Lions opened up their lead to 22-15. Pushing that advantage to 24-20, the Lions appeared to have the set won on the next point, but a confusing play where a LU attack error directly into the antenna was ruled a blocking error on the Lions could have changed the course of the entire match. The Lions, unfazed by the call, turned to junior Danielle Bletso, who zipped down a no-doubter for the final point.
Gaining an early lead in set two, Saint Leo (14-14, 8-7 SSC) responded to two Fighting Knight rallies, finally getting a comfortable margin behind another great trio of serves from Ryan. The final point of Ryan's rotation was a signal that things may go right for the home team. An initial attack that got blocked back onto the Lions' side saw an out-of-system play end with setter Jaclyn Mailoto pushing a free ball onto Lynn's side of the net. Apparently caught off guard, the Fighting Knights watched the overpass fall untouched to the court, giving the Lions the point.
Opening up a 16-11 lead after Mailoto's point, the Lions would alternate serves for the remainder of the set in taking a 2-0 advantage into the third game.
Looking to end things in three, Saint Leo rallied from a 17-12 deficit, again behind the serve of Rocha, to take an 18-17 lead. A back-and-forth battle would push the score all the way to 22-22 as the Lions responded to LU leads each time. Lynn first put itself in position to post the set win off of an SLU attack error, but Saint Leo would quickly tie the score behind a Rocha kill.
Heading to extra-points in another match this season, the Lions capitalized on consecutive attack errors, including the last one that went flying long, to pick up the match win.
Rocha and junior Celeste Bonter shared the top-performer award as Rocha notched 11 kills with a .455 average and Bonter dropped down 14 kills at a .355 clip to go along with 10 digs. Senior Kaitlin McKenna quietly had an impressive night, hitting .381, adding 11 kills a solo block and she assisted on two more as well.
Mailoto assisted on 28 kills while notching three service aces and Kim Nuckols tallied a solo block.
Still alive in the hunt for an NCAA tournament bid, the Lions will close out the regular season when they play host to Florida Tech on Saturday afternoon. Prior to the match the Lions will honor their five departing seniors as McKenna, Rocha, Nuckols, Leah Perry and Emily Calderon-Reyes will all be playing in their final home match for Saint Leo.
The ceremony is scheduled to get underway at 4:00 p.m. and the match with the Panthers will start immediately afterwards.