LAKELAND, Fla. – In the first round of the NCAA South Regional, the University of Tampa Spartans fell to the No. 17 ranked University of West Florida Argonauts three sets to one. Tampa finished its 2017 campaign with an overall record of 18-14.
Following the match, Coach Chris Catanach took the podium with the sophomore duo of Nicole Dominguez and Sammy Mueller. Reflecting on the season the team has had, Catanach said, "I was so proud, I was choked up during the introductions. This year we were under .500 for a long time. Really, we were way under .500, and these kids did what we asked and fought back. We went on a seven-match winning run and I haven't gotten choked up in a while, except for on senior night… so that is how proud I was."
Sophomore Sammy Mueller added, "I'm proud of this team, and everything we fought for. When we were 3-10 in the middle of the season, we really came together and said… we have nothing to lose anymore so why not just give it our all and see what we can make of this season. I'm just really proud of everyone for fighting and making it here."
Nicole Dominguez then talked about the future of the Spartans. She believes, "If we fight, if we work hard in practice, and if we work on our decisions a little bit more every day, we can be unstoppable." The sophomore then added, "We will be back and we will show what being a Spartan is all about."
INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Final: University of West Florida 3, University of Tampa 1 (36-34, 25-17, 19-20, 25-19)
Records: Tampa Spartans (18-14, 13-7 SSC), West Florida Argonauts (29-6, 16-0 GSC)
Location: George W. Jenkins Field House | Lakeland, Fla.
Follow Us: @TampaSpartans on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Vimeo
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Set 1 | Sammy Mueller started the match serving for the Spartans, but it was West Florida who got on the board first with a kill from their middle Caleigh Morrison. UT was quick to answer with a kill from freshman Nylah Demps on her first attempt. Demps ended the set with three kills, hitting .350 in the game. However, it was junior middle blocker Alexandra Misca who was Tampa's knight in shining armor. Misca ended set one, second on the team in kills with six, and had a kill percentage of .750. The leading point scorer for the Spartans was outside hitter Nicole Dominguez. Dominguez ended the first set with seven kills on 19 attempts, hitting .263. Mueller did a nice job of establishing multiple attackers for Tampa early in the set. She ended the first with 19 total assists. Senior Molly McAlvany suited up as the starting libero for the Spartans, picking up five digs in the set. The University of West Florida took game one, 36-34.
Set 2 | After losing a heartbreaker in the first, the Spartans were first on the board in the second due to an Argonauts missed serve. Despite losing the first point, UWF carried the momentum they had from winning the first with them to the second. Coach Chris Catanach was forced to use his second timeout with the team down 18-12. In this set, freshman Sorrel Houghton led UT on offense with four kills, followed by the efforts of Dominguez with three. Mueller logged nine additional assists, while McAlvany remained at libero for Tampa recording six digs in the set. The Argonauts took the second 25-17.
Set 3 | With no intermission, Coach Catanach needed to find a way to take back the momentum. The third set was not off to a great start as the Spartans were losing 7-2 heading into the first timeout. Following the minute break, Tampa battled back with two back-to-back blocks from the middle duo of Taylor Fosler and Alexandra Misca. After the block from Misca, to kick UWF while they were down, McAlvany then went back and logged the Spartans first service ace of the match. This forced the Argos Head Coach, Melissa Wolter, to take a timeout with the score tied at 9. Coming out of the West Florida timeout, the Argonauts tried to feed their best attacker, middle blocker Rachel Neblett. However, Sorrel Houghton then got a solo stuff block before she was stuffed again by Misca and Dominguez on the pin. After the second block, it was clear that Tampa had officially stolen her confidence. Also, it should be noted that late in the match, Demps made an outstanding save, running off the court and then sprinting back to drill a kill down the line. Tampa won the third 25-19.
Set 4 | In the fourth and final set Nylah Demps got the first kill for UT. The freshman right-side hitter ended the match earning her first double-double of her college career, with 13 kills and 10 digs. She finished the game with an average kill percentage of .214. However, it was Dominguez who led Tampa offensively with 14 kills on 44 attempts, hitting .136. Sorrel Houghton and Alexandra Misca ended the match will 10 kills apiece. The two hit .161 and .192 respectively. Setter Sammy Mueller finished the match with 50 assists and 11 digs, earning her ninth double-double of the year, while senior libero Molly McAlvany closed the book of her storied collegiate campaign leading the team in digs with 28. West Florida won the fourth 25-19.
INSIDE THE STATS:
• Sammy Mueller stated her ninth double-double of the season, with 50 assists and 11 digs. This was the third time this season Mueller had recorded 50 or more assists in a match.
• Nylah Demps logged the first double-double of her college career, with 13 kills and 10 digs.
• Molly McAlvany documented a season high of 28 digs in her final game on the court.
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE:
• Tampa leads the all-time series against West Florida 14-5.