MIAMI SHORES, Fla. – When the Buccaneers ventured into Pensacola a month ago, they had no specific scouting report on the No. 19 team in the country. Still, that didn’t give them any free passes. The show had to go on, and the match on the schedule had to be played.
Barry University’s volleyball team won that match, a four-set ousting of West Florida, the aforementioned Top 20-ranked team whom the Bucs disposed of on their own home floor. It signaled the start of something. It was the beginning of the second of three three-match win streaks Barry would enjoy away from Health & Sports Center this season.
Friday and Saturday, the Bucs will close the season in HSC with a pair of Sunshine State Conference matches against Florida Southern and Saint Leo. Friday’s match against Florida Southern (19-13, 8-6 SSC) is set for a 7 p.m. first serve on the Buccaneers Broadcasting Network. Saturday’s 4 p.m. start against Saint Leo (21-10, 8-6) will honor senior outside hitter hitter Ashley Carrero on Senior Day.
“I think the team is excited to play,” Barry head coach Steve Hendricks said. “Florida Southern has been strong all year. They’re just a solid team with good ball control. Saint Leo has the ability to play at a very high level. They can be up and down a little bit, but they’re playing very well right now. It’ll be two very tough matches.
“It’s nice to be at home to finish with senior Ashley Carrero. Everybody loves Ashley. She’s been a great part of our success. They’ve been playing very hard for her. They want her to go out on a successful weekend. She’s just been a great part of our success, a great kid and a quality student-athlete. It’s going to be sad knowing she’s not going to be back next year.”
Next year is next year when the focus will be intent on making the NCAA Tournament. But for a weekend, it’ll be about going out with a bang for one senior, all the while trying to spoil the regular season endings of two postseason-bound teams.
“That’s something we talked about in practice last night,” Hendricks said. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t make regionals because we’re playing some of the best volleyball we’ve played all year. We’re playing really good volleyball right now.”
Yet despite a ton of youth on this team – Barry has six freshmen and five sophomores – the goal has always been to play deep into November and December.
“I think those are pretty realistic expectations,” Hendricks said. “What we really didn’t count on is Tashalyn Begon and Jayla Trombley really didn’t play until mid-October because of injuries. Going into the season, I thought they’d be ready to play a little bit earlier. Then we lost Eva Raat with a stress fracture. That’s three potential starters that hurt us earlier in the year, and now Jayla and Tash are back, and they’re playing extremely well. It’s just helping our team be consistent and more offensive and more aggressive. So I did think we could do it … because they’re an athletic group.”
Barry (11-15, 4-10) will not finish with as many wins as yesteryear when the Bucs went 17-13. The Buccaneers can not finish with a winning record overall nor in conference. They can leapfrog as many as two teams in the SSC and finish as high as sixth in the league if they put together an impressive weekend and get some outside help. But more importantly they can show their true colors by performing with Barry pride.
“A lot of teams wouldn’t have continued to fight or tried to improve at the end of the year, knowing that we weren’t going to make the NCAA Tournament,” Hendricks said. “But this team continued to get better, and they pushed each other in practice, and they’ve fought for their senior. It just shows a lot of character with this group.
“The win over the ranked opponent, West Florida … we just asked our team to go out and fight for it. I think things really started to come together at that point. I think it showed our players why we believe in them so much, and that there is a lot of potential.”
UP NEXT: Barry University hosts Florida Southern in the final weekend of the season.
EYES ON OPPONENTS: The Moccasins have lost five straight, including a pair of matches to ranked teams ... They are coming off a three-set sweep at No. 2 Tampa on Saturday ... Kate Stromberg leads the Mocs with 287 kills ... Kayshia Brady is hitting .257 with 260 kills ... Gabby Fernandez and Brindl Langley each have 264 kills ... Kendall Marotti is second in the SSC with 1,175 assists ... Dominique Hale is fourth in the league with 101 blocks.
3 for 3: Barry has won three matches in a row three times this year ... The Bucs have run off those win streaks all away from Health & Sports Center.
AGAINST RANKED FOES: The Buccaneers are 1-5 against ranked opponents this season ... Florida Southern is 1-6 against ranked teams.
CARRERO’S TORPEDOS: Sr. OH Ashley Carrero has recorded double-digit kills in 13 matches this year ... She has a season-high of 18 against Eckerd at home ... Her career-best is 27 last year against Nova Southeastern.
ISOLATING IVANA: Fr. MB Ivana Didanovic has hit over .400 in 11 matches this year, with a season-high of .625 vs. Wilmington ... She leads the Bucs with a .302 attack percentage ... She has a season-high of 15 kills this year at Lynn.
LACED WITH ACES: Didanovic has ripped off five aces in a match twice this year ... Serna and Jenny Trinidad are the other two to accomplish the feat.
DIGGIN’ IT: Florida Southern’s Catherine Brusie is tied for the league lead in digs with Rollins’ Collyn Welsch with 550 ... Barry So. L Jasmine Serna is 11th in the SSC in digs per set (3.36) ... Bucs Fr. DS Kristen Reid ranks 20th (2.54).
BLOCK PARTY: Barry had outblocked or equalled its opponent in four straight matches before the Bucs were outblocked, 16-5, at Eckerd last weekend.