Trailing 2-0, with a starter on the bench due to an injury and others battling colds, the Polk State College women's volleyball team recovered Thursday to defeat St. Petersburg College 3-2 (24-26, 20-25, 25-20, 25-16, 15-10) on Breast Cancer Awareness Night at the Winter Haven Health Center.
The Eagles (17-11/5-3) started poorly, but a lineup change and a stern time-out talk from coach German Del Valle pushed the Eagles into one of their biggest and most important rallies of the year – resulting in a second-place tie in the Suncoast Conference and several individual season highs statistically.
"We had just come off a good win," said Del Valle of Tuesday's 3-0 victory over State College of Florida. "We were too relaxed. We were not making good decisions and not playing defense."
"Maybe we thought it would be easy," said freshman Ana Karine-Cavalcante (Puerto Rico), speaking of the Titans (2-12/2-6). "We were really bad. A great part of our team is sick."
Plus, starter Luaztani Turbi (Dominican Republic) went out with a lower leg injury in the fourth set.
"The coach gave us a wake up and we put our emotions together. We definitely didn't have any energy to start. We were lost."
They found themselves in the third set when sophomore co-captain Diannmarie Rivera (Puerto Rico) turned in two kills in the final three points of the third set.
"I trusted her," Del Valle said of Rivera.
He also changed his lineup in the third set.
"We were more disciplined," he said. "They asked themselves for more."
Karine-Cavalcante was inspired by a stare-down in the fifth set.
"Their setter yelled in my face," she said. "I got mad."
She finished with five kills and four digs in the set for a total of a season-high 18 digs, 11 kills and four blocks in the match.
"She was amazing," Del Valle said. "She went crazy."
Plus, freshman Yara Ramirez (Puerto Rico) came on with her serving and a key save in the set.
"She did a great job with her serving," Del Valle said.
Rivera finished with a season-high 19 kills and a season-high 31 digs, putting her in the 25 dig club for the first time this season.
Freshman Cheye Anne Savage (Hudson) scored 12 kills and three blocks and did not have a hitting error.
Freshman Rossanna Ramos, who was the FCSAA Defensive Player of the Week for the week of Oct. 8, posted 23 digs.
Sophomore setter Ashley Toth recorded 50 assists and 12 digs.
Turbi turned in five kills and four blocks before leaving with an injury.
The Eagles travel to Palm Beach for a tri-match with Daytona State Saturday.