The FCSAA #3/NJCAA #5 Santa Fe Saints (16-3, 4-1 MFC) outlasted a very tough #2/#10 College of Central Florida team on Tuesday night in Ocala, pulling out a five-set victory over the Patriots (15-7, 4-1 MFC) in front of a raucous crowd at the CF Gym.
Jane Early and Kaylin Powell helped lead a Saints defense that stifled the Patriots attack. Powell finished with a team-high seven blocks, and also led the way with 18 kills. Early was a force in the middle as well, picking up five blocks. On the outside, Julie Fuchs paved the way, killing 13 balls and blocking five.
Things didn’t start off on the right foot for the Saints who dropped the first set 16-25, and trailed by even more before rallying towards the end. The second set was a totally different SF team as they went on the offensive and jumped out to a big lead, never looking back on a 25-15 win to even things up at 1-1.
Santa Fe carried their momentum over into the third set, again staking themselves to a healthy lead. CF chipped away and nearly completed the comeback, but the Saints finished the set off for the 25-23 win.
Central Florida bounced back in the fourth set, refusing to go away, and forced a fifth and decisive set with a 25-20 win.
The final set was back and forth, and when the teams changed sides, SF trailed 8-6 and Central Florida had all the momentum. The Saints used the short timeout to regather themselves and finished the match on a 9-1 run to earn the important MFC win. SF, Central Florida, and Daytona State all sit atop the conference standings with 4-1 records.
The Saints will be back in action on Thursday at home when St. John’s River State College comes to Gainesville for a 6 p.m. Mid-Florida Conference match. Fans can watch live at www.santafesaints.com.