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OCALA- The College of Central Florida backed up its No. 1 ranking in the state with a sweep of Polk State on Tuesday night at Patriot Gym.
CF (7-1) won its seventh straight match and took a 25-18, 25-19, 26-24 win over the Eagles (3-6), the state's No. 9 team.
For the Patriots, it was their fourth sweep of the season and enabled them to improve to 3-0 at home.
"There was a lot of excitement here tonight and we just really want to say 'thank you to everyone who came out to support us tonight," CF coach Flavia Siqueira said. "It was great having the crowd support that we had tonight. The students, CF employees and fans really were great and it means a lot to our players to have that kind of support."
The Patriots have done their part on the court to please the home crowd.
CF has lost just three matches in three-plus seasons at home.
One of those defeats took place at the hands of Polk in year one of the program, but since then the Patriots haven't lost to the Eagles at any venue.
CF dominated the first two sets and followed this up by talking Polk's best shot and battled to post the sweep.
"It's always great to play against Polk because of the intensity they bring," Siqueira said. "We were able to make some adjustments to their athletes and I think that we accomplished our goals over the first two sets, but we lost focus in the third set.
"Polk played much better, but we were able to battle back and minimized our errors late."
To close things out, CF rallied from down 20-16 in the third set after trailing by no more than two points over the first two-and-half sets.
Marcela Frazzoni came up with a kill and an ace, which tied the score at 24.
The Patriots felt little resistance from the Eagles in the opening two sets on their way to the sweep.
Saunders powered down a kill and served five straight points during a 6-0 burst for the hosts.
CF extended its lead to as many as nine, before Polk got to within 23-18.
A service error followed by a kill from Jasmyn Perry gave the Patriots the first set.
In the second set, CF used an 8-3 run, aided by two kills each from Frazzoni and Perry and led 17-12.
Polk battled back to five, but kills by Otero and Kadeeja Griffin started a 5-2 run to close things out, which was capped by another kill from Frazzoni.
For the match, Frazzoni led the way with 11 kills, while Perry added nine kills.
Saunders, who has moved from the outside to the middle, finished with a team-high six blocks.
Marina Adami continued her assault on 2,000 career assists with 36 on the night and Otero continued her consistent play with 15 digs and eight kills.
Over the past two matches, Otero has been the model of consistency, as she has 29 kills and just five errors.
The Patriots also were able to shut down Polk's top hitter Genesis Castillo, who finished well below her double-figure kill average.
"We wanted to minimize her chances and I felt that we did a good job of that," Siqueira said. "(Castillo and Shatorria Edgecombe) are great athletes and we really knew that we needed to focus on stopping them.
"I felt we executed that part of our plan."
CF will now turn its attention to its home tournament this weekend.
The Patriots will host Miami Dade on Friday afternoon at 5 p.m.
MDC is a bit of a wildcard, as it opened play on Tuesday night. CF knocked off the Sharks two years ago in a sweep in Ocala for one of its signature wins of the Vanessa Benke/Jordyn Wright and Ella Kazarian era, which culminated with a state championship.
The previous season the Patriots lost in the state championship match to the Sharks.
From there, CF will host MSU West Plains and Indian River State on Saturday beginning at noon.
The Patriots downed IRSC in the opening round of last year's state tournament, while West Plains has been a perennial national tournament contender.
"(West Plains) has played a tough schedule against nationally-ranked opponents and they are always tough," Siqueira said. "We are excited about having this tournament at home and playing in front of our fans."