Aug. 8, 2011
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – The Florida State University indoor volleyball team begins its quest for another outstanding season on Tuesday, Aug. 9, as it gathers at Tully Gym at 9 a.m. to begin its annual preseason camp.
Although the unit prepared together through spring exhibition matches, the significance of the fall camp includes having the entire team together and practicing for the first time. The lone missing piece in the spring who is ready to make her debut is freshman setter Sarah Wickstrom, who comes to FSU as one of the nation’s top setters in the 2011 recruiting class.
Expectations are high once again for the Seminoles, who return 10 letterwinners from last year’s squad that finished 22-11 overall and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Not included in that bunch is redshirt freshman libero Katie Mosher, who gets a chance to pace the team in the back row after learning from former Seminole libero Jenna Romanelliin 2010.
Much of the experience lies in FSU’s hitting attack, which comes back loaded with exceptional athletes. Leading the returnees is senior Visnja Djurdjevic, a two-time American Volleyball Coaches Association Honorable Mention All-American who will make her living on the left side. The other left-side hitters returning are senior Jekaterina Stepanova and junior Fatma Yildirim.
Senior Rachael Morgan anchors a talented group on the right side, as she earned AVCA All-America honors during the Elite Eight season in 2009. Hampered by a stress fracture in 2010, the Tauranga, New Zealand native is ready for a strong comeback season as she is the lone four-year senior on the squad. Junior Marija Milosavljevic is ready for a breakthrough year at right-side hitter, and a key transfer in sophomore Elise Walchshould help FSU’s offense tremendously.
Junior Sareea Freeman showed immense improvement at middle blocker in 2010, highlighted by a 12-block performance at Atlantic Coast Conference runner-up North Carolina. She joins progressing sophomore Ashley Neffand Milosavljevic to boast a front-row trio that has plenty of potential.
The setter spot is filled with depth, as both setters from last season in junior Duygu Duzceler and senior Patricia Figueiredoreturn. Duzceler started all 33 matches last season while both student-athletes split time on the court to assist a strong hitting attack. The addition of Wickstrom only makes the group stronger.
Rounding out the position is Mosher at libero. The Fort Myers, Fla., native is ready to take the lead role of setting up her offense and has had a whole year to adjust to the college game after arriving on campus last fall. Defensive specialist Kalee Schlabachwill also provide some depth to the position.
FSU begins its season with the FSU Invitational at Tully Gym featuring three strong opponents in Kentucky, Albany and Tulsa. The Seminoles’ first match comes against nonconference rival Kentucky on Friday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. Both schools have battled in five-set thrillers the last two seasons, with FSU coming out on top on both occasions.
Every preseason practice will be crucial as FSU faces another daunting schedule highlighted by 12 NCAA postseason participants from 2010 and 16 of its 30 matches against postseason teams.
The Seminoles also get a chance to play on the big stage in 2011, as it hosts conference rival Miami on Wednesday, Sept. 14 with a special start time of 8 p.m. on ESPNU. Two televised road matches include a contest at North Carolina State on Oct. 9 on a regional network and a matchup at Clemson on Nov. 18 that can be seen worldwide on ESPN3.com.
Check back with seminoles.com throughout the entire 2011 season for FSU Volleyball news, and get instantaneous updates by following the team on twitter at @FSU_Volleyball.