Ryan Matthews

The Lady Patriots put on a dominant display in their home opener with a clean sweep (25-11, 27-25, 25-20) over conference opponent Lake-Sumter State College. The Lady Patriots came into tonight’s game ranked 11th in the NJCAA and fourth in the FCSAA. Tonight’s win marks their second conference win, giving them a 2-1 conference record to go along with a 7-3 overall record.

The first set of the match really made a statement for the rest of the game as CF dominated the set 25-11. During this set the Lady Patriots never trailed the visiting Lake Hawks. This gave the Patriots momentum with an early 1-0 lead.

The next set would prove more daunting as the Lake Hawks pushed CF to the breaking point. Down 7-10 early, CF would fight their way back to a score of 10-10. From there the Patriots and Lake Hawks would trade punches until they found themselves tied at 25 a piece. Ultimately, it would be the hometown Patriots who found a way to pull out a close 27-25 second set victory, giving them a controlling 2-0 lead in the match.

The third and what would be final set of the match was just as exhilarating as the second. The Patriots struck quickly with an early 10-5 lead putting the pressure on the lake hawks early. This however wouldn’t stop the Lake Hawks from cutting the Lady Patriot lead from a five point to a one point lead making the score 16-15 down the stretch. A late comeback win would be spoiled for the Lake Hawks as an attempted score would fall out of bounds giving the Lady Patriots a convincing three to nothing sweep over the Lake Hawks.

Freshman standout performer Marina Cruz had a record setting day, as she dished out 17 kills a new season high for her. Some other good performances came from players like Yomaries Villegas-Miranda (15 Digs) and Julia Cardoso who had 38 of the total 40 assist tonight. According to Julia Cardoso the Patriots aren’t taking tomorrow’s tournament lightly.

“We have to hit it hard again and keep the energy up,” Cardoso said. “We have to push are selves to be the best we can be, even when we are down we have to bring our best always.”

Even with performances like tonight the Patriots leaders know they cannot become complacent, leaders like Yomaries Villegas know this better than anyone.

“We need to keep this energy up, stay focused, keep lifting each other up and I think we will be okay,” Villegas said. “We have the talent to compete in this conference, we just need the attitude plus the personality and we should be good.”

Attitude is a big reason why Head Coach Angel Gonzalez believes his team is performing better than last week’s 3-1 loss to conference opponent Polk State College.

“The energy and the attitude that we put into tonight’s game I think was a big difference in our performance compared to last week,” Gonzalez said. “We still have some things to work on with our defense and blocking that’s going to be our main focus now so that we can continue to compete in this conference.”

The Lady Patriots will now shift their attention to Friday and Saturday’s two-tournament at Hillsborough Community College, before returning home on Oct. 10 where they will play host to conference rival Daytona State College at 7 p.m. Come out and support our Lady Patriots as students and faculty enter for free.

Story by: Ryan Matthews