August 28, 2013 - by
2013 Season Preview

Aug 28, 2013

Going for a Three-Peat
Florida State once again begins the 2013 season with a target on its back as defending ACC champions for the second consecutive year. The Seminoles earned the conference crown in 2011 then successfully defended it in 2012 by emerging victorious in a winner-takes-all match against Miami.

The Seminoles are looking to become the first ACC team to win three consecutive conference championships since North Carolina accomplished the feat from 1999-2001. Duke (1991-94) and North Carolina (1980-83) are the only ACC schools to record four straight conference titles.

Since the regular-season champion was determined to be the league winner beginning in 2005, Florida State is the only ACC school to win consecutive titles.

Burrington has a Summer Blast
Redshirt freshman middle blocker Sarah Burrington had a fun- filled summer that was highlighted by a trip to the Czech Republic with the USA Volleyball Women’s Junior National Team. For two weeks, Burrington blogged about her enjoyable time spent playing against elite competition at the FIVB U20 World Championship, as well as the sight-seeing and eating that her group did.

Overall, Burrington and the USA squad finished 6-3 which includes scrimmages. Head coach Chris Poole and his coaching staff are hoping the Ruskin, Fla., native’s unforgettable experience will add to her tremendous upside that will be on display in 2013.

The Month to Remember
While October signifies the “scariest” time of the year with Halloween peaking at the end, the month has been anything but frightening for Florida State over the last few seasons.

Since the 2011 year that saw the Seminoles earn a trip to the NCAA National Semifinals, Florida State is 18-0 in the month of October. The last loss for FSU in the year’s 10th month was in fact on Halloween (Oct. 31) of 2010, falling at Virginia in five tough sets.

October is typically filled with ACC opponents and the same holds true in the upcoming season. The Seminoles face Georgia Tech, Clemson, Notre Dame, Duke and Wake Forest in road matches while hosting Maryland, Pitt and Miami during the month this year.

Walch Workin’ Hard
The 2013 season is a big year for right-side hitter Elise Walch. The Stuart, Fla., native begins her senior season and shows a noticeable improvement in her athleticism after working extremely hard all offseason.

Walch, who is joined on the team by her sister Nicole, got after her workouts with strength and speed coach Caitlin Quinn as well as trainer Amanda Robinson shortly after the 2012 season ended. The good-natured player with a fierce attacking game is much quicker and touches much better in the air than she ever has since coming to FSU in 2011.

Although nothing is guaranteed going into a season, Walch has put herself in great position to have her best season as a Seminole. Her enormous dedication to getting in great shape could go a long way toward enhancing her overall game.

Walch Workin’ Hard Part II
Elise Walch isn’t the only Walch who has made strides heading into the 2013 season. Sophomore outside hitter Nicole Walch played at the USA National A2 Tournament in Dallas from June 29-July 3 against some of the top college-level talent in the nation, and more than held her own.

Nicole guided the Team Gold squad to the tournament championship on July 3, ultimately falling to Team White. Through her five matches played, Walch often led her team in kills and was a primary focus on the offensive end. Taking after her sister with a hard-working attitude this offseason, Nicole could propel herself to a breakout season in her second year at Florida State.

Poole Looking for Win No. 700
Longevity has been kind to Florida State volleyball head coach Chris Poole, who begins his 27th season as head coach as well as his sixth at Florida State. Entering the year with a 680-264 overall record, Poole is just 20 wins away from joining a special coaching group with 700 wins.

Poole also got his 600th win in his second season at Florida State, when the Seminoles defeated Alabama A&M in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Dec. 5, 2009. His progress can be seen in how much faster his milestone wins have come – Poole’s 500th career win came at Arkansas on Nov. 19, 2004 before claiming his 600th five years later. He now has an opportunity to get win No. 700 just four seasons later as he continues his resurrection of the Seminole volleyball program.

Moving up the Record Books
Middle blocker Ashley Neff and libero Katie Mosher were the only two members of the 2010 freshman class at Florida State. Nearly four years later, both student-athletes have made an enormous impact that will leave their names etched in the Florida State record books.

Neff, a senior from Kennesaw, Ga., is eighth in school history with 438 total blocks, sixth with a .320 career hitting percentage and fifth with 378 block assists. In her two blocking categories, Neff ranks as the highest of any FSU volleyball student-athlete who played in the rally-scoring era (2001-present) as before points were counted only on serves and allowed more opportunities for kills, blocks, digs, etc. If Neff continues at her current pace, she could be just the sixth Seminole to record 600 or more total blocks for her career. Included in Neff’s career totals is merely a half season of playing time in 2010 when she had planned to redshirt but was forced into action because of injuries.

Mosher still has two years of eligibility remaining after redshirting her first season in 2010. The Fort Myers, Fla. native is seventh in school history with 1,099 career digs, just 761 digs away from breaking former Nole Summer Weissing’s school record of 1,859. After recording 604 digs in 2011 then 495 last season, Mosher is on pace to become the school’s all-time leader in digs.

Not Feeling as Green
Sophomore right-side hitter Mara Green was known as an exceptional leaper at the front of the net, starring for her high school as a middle blocker with great touching ability. A leg injury sustained heading into her freshman year at Florida State may have hampered her game a little, but it appears she is getting back to full strength.

After having offseason surgery in May 2013, Green is on the fast recovery back to her normal self. Exhibiting the pep in her step that was last seen as a senior in high school, the McDonough, Ga., native looks to make a significant contribution to the Noles and remain healthy for the season.

While she stepped up big in some matches as a freshman, Green is ready to raise the level of her attacking and aid in the team’s blocking game in 2013.

Another Tough Schedule
It just wouldn’t be a Chris Poole-led squad without having a large share of difficult matches. The 2013 season plans to be no different as Florida State faces 11 teams either ranked in the AVCA Top 25 preseason poll or receiving votes.

The non-conference opponents in the poll include No. 7 Michigan, No. 9 Florida, No. 17 Kentucky, No. 21 Western Kentucky, No. 23 Ohio State, Illinois (49 votes), Long Beach State (30 votes) and Texas A&M (20 votes).

The ACC opponents include North Carolina (68 votes), Miami (41 votes) and newcomer Notre Dame (6 votes). Altogether, 13 of Florida State’s 31 matches will feature a team that is part of the AVCA Preseason Poll.

Noles Ranked 18th in AVCA Preseason Poll
The Florida State indoor volleyball team has been selected 18th in the annual American Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason Poll.

The preseason Top 25 ranking is the fourth time in school history Florida State has been nationally-ranked before the season has gotten underway. In 1998, the Seminoles were chosen 24th in the opening poll, then were picked 15th in the preseason in 2010. Last year, the Seminoles were ranked 12th in the preseason.

The back-to-back Atlantic Coast Conference champions were the only team in the league to earn a Top 25 spot. Rival North Carolina sits just outside the preseason poll with 68 votes, while 2012 league runner-up Miami shows 41 votes. Fellow ACC team Notre Dame added to the conference’s total with six additional votes.

Florida State continues its school-record streak of being in the AVCA Top 25 poll. Including their current No. 18 ranking, the Seminoles have now been ranked for 27 consecutive weeks. The last time Florida State was outside the Top 25 poll was on Sept. 12, 2011. The previous long stretch of AVCA Top 25 appearances for the Seminoles came at 24 straight weeks from Sept. 7, 2009 to Oct. 25, 2010.

Welcome Coach Mac!
With the departure of beloved associate head coach Holly Watts, who became the head coach at UTEP, the Seminoles welcome new associate head coach Ryan McGuyre. He joins fellow associate head coach Gokhan Yilmaz and head coach Chris Poole to create a formidable staff.

McGuyre carries a strong reputation in the collegiate volleyball circuit and has enjoyed much success on several levels. The former California Baptist head coach and Maryland assistant has educated at the collegiate, high school and club level since 1995, and has made his mark in the women’s game by coaching several All-Americans while earning national championships and coach-of-the-year awards out West.

The newest member to the FSU staff has been a part of nine national championships and 541 collegiate wins throughout his decorated coaching career.

On the women’s side, he has coached 18 NAIA All-Americans and 15 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes. In the men’s program, he had 19 players named to the NAIA Men’s Invitational All-Tournament team and five named AVCA/NAIA All-America in the first two seasons it was awarded.

Ready to Go
Two redshirt freshmen in middle blocker Sarah Burrington and outside hitter Leah Mikesky have a chance to emerge as prime contributors for the Seminoles this season.

While Burrington developed her game even more this summer and comes in with much raw talent, Mikesky has also improved and will compete for a spot at outside hitter. The Schulenburg, Texas native is known as an extremely athletic performer who provided quite a challenge to the every-match starters in practice last year.

If Florida State can get consistently strong performances from the two redshirt freshmen who helped make up their highly-touted 2012 recruiting class, the Seminoles will have a solid chance to three-peat in the ACC.

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