WINTER PARK, Fla. – The Saint Leo University volleyball team (26-8, 6-6 SSC) turned back the Rollins College Tars (17-16, 2-10 SSC) in five sets (20-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-19, 15-5), Sunday afternoon as the Lions took to the road for the second time in three days. The win, as improbable as it seemed after Set Two, propels Saint Leo to another record in wins with their 26th victory of 2008.
Saint Leo quickly found themselves down 2-0, after committing 22 total errors and being out blocked 10-to-one. The Lions remained resilient though, taking the third set by two points and closing out the Tars in impressive fashion in the final two sets to stun the Rollins faithful in attendance. Freshman Danielle Bletso was the catalyst of the Lions charge, hammering down 16 kills and hitting .517. Sophomore Kaitlin McKenna hit .312, while notching 16 kills and adding seven total blocks. Chelsea Armer had 14 kills and 11 digs in the come from behind effort, and Jenna Jordan laced 12 kills and notched 17 digs for her 11th double-double of the season.
Setter Michelle Nogueras solidified her 28th double-double of the season with 54 assists and 17 digs.
Armer single-handedly brought the Lions back to life when she ripped a kill down just inside the back line, giving the Lions a 2-0 lead at the start of Set Three but the Tars did not go away. Rollins, determined to close the Lions out in three, battled back and took an 11-9 lead but SLU fought back again to tie the match at 13. The entire Lions bench erupted when McKenna blasted the Lions 14th point with the one of the hardest hit balls of the night. Saint Leo maintained a two-point advantage for the much of the remainder of the set and, with the Lions up 24-23, Bletso dropped in one of her six kills in the game, putting the finishing touches on a hard-fought set win.
The Lions refused to let go of the momentum in Set Four, racing out to eight point lead and taking the score to 20-12. After a timeout by the Tars, Saint Leo watched their large lead begin to shrink as Rollins rallied off the next three points. The Lions quickly put the brakes on the Tars, as Jordan posted an SLU kill to swing momentum back in the corner of the Green & Gold. Bletso finished off the fourth set as she did the third, with a monstrous kill inside the ten foot line to send the teams to the fifth and decidiing set.
The Lions completed the comeback as they jumped ahead of the Tars in the fifth set, posting an 8-4 score at the interchange. Saint Leo tallied seven of the next eight points to cruise to 15-5 set victory wrapping up the improbable road rally. SLU committed only one error during the set, while Rollins College committed six to further their collapse.
The Lions were out-blocked 14-to-8, but outhit the Tars .192-to-.164. The Lions overcame 33 team errors to get the win while Rollins could not recover from their 25 mistakes, a majority coming in the last three sets.
Saint Leo returns to action on Friday, November 7 for a SSC match with the Lynn University Fighting Knights. Action is set to begin from the Bowman Center at 7:00 pm.