September 9, 2010 - by
Elite Eight Revisited

Sept. 9, 2010

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 17th-ranked Florida State University women’s volleyball team travels to Lexington, Ky., for a three-match set at the University of Kentucky Tournament on Sept. 10-11 at the Memorial Coliseum.

The Seminoles (5-1) begin their slate with an 11 a.m. matchup versus Big 12 foe Kansas State, followed by another match at No. 16 Kentucky at a revised time of 7 p.m. FSU finishes with a 3 p.m. contest versus Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday.

“Kansas State is always a fundamentally sound team and will be a challenge for us,” coach Chris Poole said. “Kentucky is a team we played in the Sweet 16 last season and they’ll be looking for revenge, so it will be a tough battle that first day. VCU is also a good team that gets into 20 wins each season.”

FSU enters the four-team field atop the Atlantic Coast Conference in several categories, as it continues to put up strong numbers in non-conference competition. The Seminoles lead the conference in hitting percentage (.320) and kills (15.10 per set), and are second with 13.45 assists per set and third with 2.40 blocks per set.

FSU is coming off a 2-1 showing at the Houston Invitational last weekend. The Seminoles defeated Houston, 3-0, as well as Oklahoma, 3-1, but fell against 14th-ranked Tennessee.

Looking for a résumé-building non-conference victory, FSU battles Southeastern Conference opponent Kentucky in the second of its three matches. Both teams last met in last season’s thrilling five-setter in the Sweet 16 in Minnesota, with the Seminoles winning 3-2 (16-25, 26-24, 25-17, 19-25, 17-15) on current senior Jenna Romanelli’s service ace that clinched the school’s first-ever trip to the Elite Eight.

In that same contest, several current Seminoles posted standout performances. Junior right-side hitter Rachael Morgan led FSU with 15 kills while adding six digs and two blocks, and senior libero Romanelli nearly reached her career high as she recorded 25 digs against the Wildcats.

Missing from last season’s Elite Eight squad was junior outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic, who leads the team with 74 kills. Djurdjevic is sixth in the ACC with a .372 attack percentage and third in the conference with 3.70 kills per set.

Through six matches, FSU has often been crisper than the opposition on the defensive end. The Seminoles show a 277-246 edge against their opponents in digs, and have 48 team blocks compared to 33 by the opposition. Senior Lauren Young and sophomore Marija Milosavljevic have combined for 34 block assists and two solo blocks to anchor the middle blocker position.

Duygu Duzceler has been the primary force behind FSU’s high assist total. The Istanbul, Turkey, native has 136 assists this year, while fellow setter Patricia Figueiredo adds 96.

The Kansas State Wildcats (4-3) have won four consecutive matches over South Dakota, Loyola Marymount, Oral Roberts and Georgia Tech. JuliAnne Chisholm leads the team with 79 kills, while setter Caitlyn Donahue shows 215 assists and 34 digs.

The Kentucky Wildcats (4-3) lost their last match to BIG EAST school Cincinnati, and carry a victory over common opponent USF. UK is guided by Whitney Billings’ 84 kills, and Lauren Rapp is the team leader with 30 blocks, included six solo.

The Rams (1-6) have already faced two ranked teams in No. 1 Penn State and 20th-ranked Dayton, both resulting in losses. VCU’s lone win in the early going is against Seton Hall.

VCU’s Mariel Frey shows 79 kills and 50 digs. Courtney Hott and Kelsie Clegg have a combined 55 blocks, and Marisa Low leads the unit with 90 digs.

All three matches can be followed on CBS GameTracker. FSU’s contest versus Kentucky will also feature live blogging from the Wildcats’ official athletic website.

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