Bucs Volleyball Holds Serve in Comeback Victory

Bucs Volleyball Holds Serve in Comeback Victory
The Bucs formed covalent bonds in a pair of important road wins to improve their NCAA Tournament chances. Photo by Jason Roberts

MELBOURNE, Fla. -- Steve Hendricks got his wish.

Earlier in the week, Barry's second-year volleyball coach said his team would do everything it could to bring two wins back from an important Sunshine State Conference weekend on the road.

Mission accomplished.

Barry pulled off a 21-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-17, 15-9 comeback win over Florida Tech at Palm Bay High School Saturday, helping the Buccaneers polish off a weekend sweep of two teams that stood ahead of them in the SSC and the NCAA Division II South Region rankings. Barry beat Rollins on the road Friday, and have won three in a row.

Entering the weekend, the Bucs (14-11, 6-6 SSC) were ranked No. 9 in the South. Rollins and Florida Tech were directly ahead of them. The top eight teams qualify for the NCAA Tournament, following the conclusion of the regular season Nov. 17.

Rollins fell to 14-13 overall, 5-6 in the SSC. The Panthers dropped to 15-9, 5-7.

Barry plays crosstown rival Nova Southeastern (4-22, 1-9) on the road 7 p.m. Tuesday before returning home to host Palm Beach Atlantic (31-3). The Bucs rallied to beat Nova in five sets at Health & Sports Center earlier this year, and lost to the Sailfish, which is ranked third in the South, in West Palm Beach in another five-set verdict. PBA hosts Florida Tech Tuesday before visiting Miami Shores.

Trailing 2-0 in Saturday's match, the Bucs battled back-and-forth in a see-saw affair without much separation until Laine Cielena pounded one of her season-high 17 kills to spot Barry a two-point lead. Following a Panthers' timeout, Cielena sent another ball to the floor to extend the lead to 23-20. Tech countered with a kill by Caitlyn Ballweber, and a Buccaneers setting error to cut the gap to one.

But after Hendricks called timeout, Cielena blasted another kill to the floor to make it 24-22, and a Florida Tech hitting error gave Barry extended life, cutting FIT's match lead to 2-1.

The Buccaneers hit .486 in the third set, converting 73 percent of their sideout opportunities.

Barry zipped to a 20-12 lead in the fourth set when Jasmine Serna ripped off an ace. The Panthers trimmed the Bucs' lead to six on an ace of their own, but Ashley Carrero put away one of her 16 kills, and a Florida Tech attack error tied the match at two sets apiece.

With Jayla Trombley serving in the decisive set, the Buccaneers used kills by Carrero and Mima Hajdukovic and a Panthers attack error to take a 12-6 lead. Florida Tech whittled it down to 13-8 on Ballweber's kill and a Barry ballhandling error. After Carrero pushed Barry to match point with a kill, FIT's Janice Valies had a kill to keep the Panthers' oxygen flowing, but a hitting error on the ensuing serve terminated the match.

The Bucs had a .313 attack percentage, while holding the Panthers to .184. Barry were credited with 24 block assists, seven of which belonged to Tania Torres, who also finished with eight kills and a .368 attack percentage.

Barry improved to 4-2 in five-setters, and won their third road match of the season.

Trombley had season highs in kills (15), digs (14) and attack percentage (.353). Cielena had a team-best .483 hitting percentage and four block assists.

The Bucs commited just 16 attacking errors in 163 attempts. The Panthers committed 28 hitting errors in as many attempts.

Mariana Lisboa had 20 digs, which fell one shy of her season- and career-high, and established a career-best with nine assists. Hajdukovic had 43 assists, 10 digs, two aces, three blocks and six kills.

Five Buccaneers attacked over .330 in the match. Barry surpassed its win total of last year with two weeks remaining in the regular season.