Volleyball kicks off FCSAA State Tournament of Friday

Volleyball kicks off FCSAA State Tournament of Friday

Click here to watch CF vs Santa Fe | State Tournament Bracket

OCALA--The College of Central Florida volleyball team will start off the FCSAA State Tournament with a familiar foe.

The Patriots will battle rival Santa Fe on Friday morning at 11a.m. in the opening round of the tournament at the Gulf Breeze Community Center in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

Wins by CF in its first two matches of the tournament and it qualifies for the NJCAA National Tournament for the fourth time in five years.

A win in the opener by the Patriots and they will face the winner of Indian River State vs Polk State on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. Should CF lose, it will face the loser between IRSC/PSC on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.

The Patriots knocked off Santa Fe in five sets in last year's tournament to stay alive, but lost to Polk State the next match to miss out on a trip to nationals.

This season, CF and Santa Fe won on the other's homecourt, with the Patriots taking the last regular season meeting to clinch their fourth outright Mid-Florida Conference championship in five years.

The previous season, SFC won in Ocala in the final MFC match to force a tie for the conference crown.

Against SFC, Nathaly Alvarez (79 assists in two matches), Julia Azevedo (29 kills) and Yara Rodriguez (39 digs) have been the leaders. 

Alvarez, a four-time FCSAA setter of the week, finished with 34 assists, nine digs and eight kills in the road win for CF this season over the Saints.

In that contest, Rodriguez tied her conference-best with 25 digs. As the only returning player from last year's team, Rodriguez stepped up huge down the stretch. In the fourth set of the win over the Saints, she had a key ace, which helped start a late three-point swing for CF.

Earlier in the match, the Patriots were down 24-21 in the opener, before they hit the Saints with a 5-0 run.

CF, which started off the season at 1-3, also got a big effort from Heather Bowersox in the win over SFC. Bowersox finished with 11 kills, including two during the match-ending three-point swing. 

The Patriots finished with a 58-42 edge in kills during their win, while they saw SFC hold a 56-52 in the loss to the Saints in Ocala.

For SFC, Nadine Williams (25 kills), Farah Rajaee (80 assists) and Kaylin Powell (23 kills) were the top performers against CF. In the first match against the Patriots, Powell had 18 kills, but was limited to just five in the rematch.

Friends and family will have the ability to watch every set of the Patriots' state tournament run. All games will be streamed live at the FCSAA Sports' YouTube page