Jessica Wagner and Berkley Whaley thwarted the NSU upset attempt.
Jessica Wagner and Berkley Whaley thwarted the NSU upset attempt.

Spartans Edge Sharks in Five-Set Fashion

Box Score

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – With one win away from their second consecutive perfect Sunshine State Conference season, the No. 1 University of Tampa volleyball team defeated Nova Southeastern University in a 3-2 thriller Friday evening.

The victory gives the Spartans a 28-1 overall record and a pristine 15-0 conference tally while the hosting Sharks dip to 5-21 with a 1-14 SSC tally.  Tampa is riding a 21-game win streak and has not lost a SSC match in an astounding 34 straight contests dating back to Oct. 29th, 2011.

Reigning SSC Offensive Player of the Week, Berkley Whaley charged the Spartans with a double-double, posting 23 kills and 15 digs.  Sophomore Jessica Wagner put forth a 12-kill, nine-block showing in addition to picking up six digs and three service aces.  Rightside hitter Marissa Lisenbee grounded 12 kills at a strong .393 attack percentage.

Defensively, the match was led by libero Jen Scholz and setter Kahley Patrick, as the tandem picked up 21 and 19 digs respectively.  The junior Patrick notched her own double-double effort with 53 assists to combine with her stellar defense.

NSU was led by Sydney Cook who swatted 16 kills while outside hitter Destiny Bannister reached double-digits with 10 kills.  Shark libero Candice Johnson led all players with 25 digs while NSU setter Kaite Pyles picked up a double-double with 41 assists and 20 digs.

Sophomore Wagner dominated the first set with three kills, three total blocks and a pair of aces while Lisenbee posted a 3-for-4 attack.  Tampa took the first set by a 25-13 margin and totaled five blocks as a team.

NSU took the second set 25-20 to draw the match even at 1-1.  Outside hitter Whaley led the UT squad with four kills but was unable to build momentum.  Defensively, Tampa was led by the duo of Patrick and Scholz, both tallying six digs. 

UT returned to form in the third as Wagner delivered a flurry of kills in addition to a pair of blocks.  The Cape Coral, Fla. native swung an errorless 6-for-9 in the third frame to secure the Tampa advantage.  The defense spread the floor as Scholz, Megan Heffron and Frances Cardenas combined for 15 digs.

Nova battled to a 31-29 fourth set victory, forcing a decisive fifth set.  Whaley grounded a barrage of eight kills in the frame despite the loss.

Whaley blasted five kills in the fifth set to seal the Spartan victory 15-12 to take the match and preserve the UT win streak.

The Spartans will look to complete the regular season and continue their conference momentum with a trip to Lynn University.  Live stats for the 2 p.m. game will be made available through www.tampaspartans.com

Fans may also follow University of Tampa athletics on Twitter (www.twitter.com/utspartans) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/tampaspartans). UT also offers blAst, a free text messaging service that sends text alerts following all Spartan events. To sign up, please register at www.tampaspartans.com.

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