BOCA RATON, Fla. – There will be no postseason for the Saint Leo volleyball team, but that didn't matter very much on Saturday afternoon as the Lions clawed to a thrilling 3-2 (26-24, 23-25, 25-14, 25-21, 15-4) Sunshine State Conference win in the 2011 season finale at the deHornle Center in south Florida.
The beginning of the game could not have gone better for the hosts as they took an early 6-2 lead that would grow into a 13-6 advantage. Saint Leo (14-15, 7-9 SSC) battled back and tied the game at 17-17, which was followed by four consecutive points from the Knights. Lynn (14-14, 6-10 SSC) was able to fight off a late Lion run and earn two set points, but the Lions clawed their way back with four-straight points and claimed set one 26-24.
The second set took longer for any team to take a commanding lead until the Fighting Knights tallied a 5-2 run and went up 16-12. The points would go back and forth until Lynn finally claimed the set 25-23.
The third set started with a 6-0 run for the Fighting Knights and they never trailed the entire set. A 7-3 run by Saint Leo made it a three point game, but Lynn countered with an impressive 6-1 run to put the set out of reach.
The fourth set started as an even match with Saint Leo taking an early 11-8 lead before the Knights were able to tie it at 13-13. At 16-15 Saint Leo, the Lions started to pull ahead going on a 6-2 run to make it 22-17 and pushed the advantage to a fifth set.
The final set of the match began with an 8-0 Saint Leo run before Lynn managed its first kill of the match. Not taking their foot off the gas, Sam Cibrone's squad continued their final attack and won 15-4.
In match that saw every single Lion earn court time, freshman Tawni Warren concluded her remarkable rookie campaign with 15 kills and a .341 average. In her final game as a Lion, senior Danielle Bletso racked up 15 kills (1,052 career, 4th all time) and held a .467 average while also adding seven blocks and a service ace. Proving the Lions' future is very bright, another freshman, Lauren Campbell, added 12 kills and 20 digs.
For Lynn, the duo of Brittany Brown and Brianna Cox recorded a combined 40 kills, Brown with 21 and Cox with 19.
With the end of 2011, the Lions bid farewell to three seniors in Bletso, Emily Calderon-Reyes and Corey Ryan. With this year's freshman class posting impressive numbers, 2012 is looking promising for fans of the Green and Gold.