Aug. 28, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State volleyball team jump-started its 2009 season Friday night with a three-set sweep (25-19, 25-13, 25-23) over Central Michigan on day one of the Florida State Invitational at Tully Gym.
For the Seminoles (1-0), Friday night’s victory marks the seventh-straight season that FSU has earned a victory in its opening match of the season and second year in a row that it swept its first opponent.
“We really didn’t know what to expect in the first game,” FSU second-year coach Chris Poole said. “You try to put some things together in the preseason but it’s hard until you actually play an opponent to see what’s going to work and what’s not. Already we were able to make some adjustments and pick up on some things we will continue to work on.”
In addition to providing Poole with his first real look at his team, FSU’s matchup with Central Michigan (0-2) also served as the return of senior Mira Djuric. The 6-foot-2 outside hitter rejoined her teammates Friday after a medical redshirt kept her sidelined for the duration of the 2008 season.
After shaking off some obvious early rust, Djuric showed the crowded stands why she was named to the 2009 Preseason All-ACC Team. With her impressive jump serves and hard-hitting ability, Djuric finished the night with a match-high in kills (12) and services aces (three).
“It felt good to get back out there,” Djuric said. “It took me awhile to get going but once I did, it was like I never missed a whole year. I need to keep improving and getting better but it was a good start. Now we just have to do a better job of closing teams out.”
Djuric’s sentiments about the Seminoles’ closing ability stem from the team’s struggles late in the third set. After running away with the first two games, FSU trailed the Chippewas 20-18 and were then clinging to a 24-23 lead before a Central Michigan service error concluded the evening.
“When you’re up 2-0, you’ve got to come back out in game three and finish the match,” Poole said. `That’s a mentality that a lot of teams struggle with. I talked to (the team) about that after the match. Whether we are up 2-0 or we are down 2-0 it doesn’t matter. You still have to win three games.”
In addition to Djuric, senior Brianna Barry added 10 kills and sophomore Rachael Morgan contributed six of her own on just 13 attempts. Morgan’s .462 hitting percentage was a match-high for players with at least 10 total attacks.
While the victory over the Chippewas was highlighted by the play of FSU’s fifth-year senior star, a few newcomers also managed to put their stamps on the box score.
True freshman Duygu Duzcheler finished tied with senior Nikki Baker with 15 assists while fellow first-year player Sareea Freeman was a strong presence in the middle as she finished with five block attempts
As for the other Seminoles, junior Stephanie Neville added four kills, junior libero Jenna Romanelli added a match-best 12 digs and senior Jordana Price posted two kills, one dig and three block attempts.
The contest between the Seminoles and Chippewas was the third and final match of the day at Tully Gym as North Dakota State defeated both Central Michigan and Florida A&M in three-set sweeps in prior matches.
The action will resume on Saturday afternoon as FSU faces off against that undefeated Bison team at noon. The Rattlers and Chippewas will then meet at 2 p.m. before FSU and FAMU close out the weekend with a 7 p.m. tilt.
Both Seminole matches will be available for viewing online by visiting Seminoles.com.