The Bucs had mixed outcomes in their back-to-back conference matches against Samford and Chattanooga on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.
With a loss against the Bulldogs of 3-2 (27-25,25-20,34-36,23-25,23-25) and a win against the Mocs of 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-17), the Bucs now have a record of 2-1 in conference play.
The Bucs led the first set against the Bulldogs with a 9-0 serve run by senior Alyssa Kvarta (Crown Point, Indiana). The Bulldogs fought back, and soon the score was only a four-point difference of 19-15. Despite the back-and-forth with the Bulldogs, the Bucs were able to come out on top in the first set with a kill by junior Leah Clayton (Danville, Virginia,) making it 27-25.
The second set showed no change in determination from the Bucs, giving them a win of 25-20, but despite their fight the rest of the match, the Bulldogs came back with wins for the next three sets giving the Bucs their first loss in the conference season.
The next day, the Bucs produced a winning score of 3-0 against Chattanooga. The Mocs put up a fight, but it wasn’t enough to defeat the determination of the Bucs.
“Those are the most valuable moments, when you do have a loss, because it identifies some weaknesses that you have to work on,” said head coach Lindsey Devine. “I think that the ability to turn around in 24 hours and change a few things, and each individual doing that, that’s why they were successful today.”
The Bucs started the first set against the Mocs fully confident with back-to-back kills by Clayton and junior Kaela Massey (Brentwood, Tennessee) both assisted by Kvarta, making it a 2-0 lead.
The Mocs did well in keeping the score close and was able to rally off three straight points after the Bucs set point with another kill by Clayton. But like the next two sets, the Mocs couldn’t stay on top giving the Bucs a three-set win.
“I think we really pressed through and got our heads right this game,” said Clayton. “We didn’t harp on the negative things we did yesterday, and we really just stuck to persevering and pushing through what we needed to do and stuck to the game plan.”
Kvarta was honored for her 2,000 career assists before the match against Samford. Clayton led in kills for both matches, with 22 kills in the first match and 16 in the second.
Sophomore Marija Popovic (Belgrade, Serbia) also had a stand out performance in both matches with 33 digs in the first match and 18 in the second.
The Bucs will move on to play UNCG in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Oct. 3.