Oct. 13, 2006
GAME SCORES: Florida Sate 2, Virginia Tech 1 (30-25, 30-26, 26-30, 31-29)
BLACKSBURG, Va. – How things can change in only a year. Through the middle of last October, the Florida State volleyball team was at a low point with a 5-12 record. One year later, the Seminoles have matched their entire win total from the 2005 campaign after defeating Virginia Tech 3-1 (30-25, 30-26, 26-30, 31-29) on Friday (October 13) at Cassell Coliseum.
The Seminoles continued their best start in ACC as they improved to 7-1, 13-4 overall. The win also upped Florida State to 17-1 against the Hokies. Virginia Tech dropped to 10-8 overall, 4-5 in the league.
“It’s a credit to our kids,” Kress said of reaching 13 wins. “They were very unhappy with the first half of last season and they were determined to turn it around. We made a conscious effort to turn things around and it started with the second half of last season. That erased the bad memories of the first half of 2005 and catapulted us into what I think is a very solid team right now.”
Putting together a career night was junior outside hitter Makini Thompson (Quincy, Mass.) as she produced a personal-best 23 kills with a .367 (23-5-49) hitting percentage. Rookies Malorie Wessel (West Chester, Ohio) and Brianna Barry (Winter Springs, Fla.) were next with 15 and 13 kills respectively.
The Seminoles held a slight 60-57 advantage in digs thanks to 22 from junior libero Summer Weissing (Boca Raton, Fla.) as well as 12 from Sarah Griffin (Hereford, Texas) and 11 by Alex Plummer (Woodbury, Minn.). Florida State had a season-high 14 blocks as Griffin contributed a team-best seven stuff while fellow senior Jessica Skower (Naples, Fla.) came in with a half dozen blocks. Setter Zrinka Tomic (Nustar, Croatia) was two short of her career-high with 55 assists.
Florida State also had a season-high with 71 kills as part of its .244 (71-30-168) to .192 (57-27-156) hitting advantage.
“It was a breakout night for her,” Kress said of Thompson. “I told her after the match that that was one her best, if not her best, match at Florida State. She had some big time swings and was our go to player tonight and that’s important in the maturation of our team. We have a pretty balanced team, but you still have to have a go to player and tonight she was that player; she provided some critical swings in big situations.”
After a back and fourth start to the match, the Seminoles found themselves in a 21-18 hole midway through game one. Out of a Florida State timeout, a Thompson kill, Griffin block and Wessel kill tied the match at 21-21. Florida State got the lead back, 23-22, on a Griffin ace before establishing a two-point lead (25-23) on a Hokie attacking error. A kill by Tomic opened a three-point margin (28-25) that FSU would extended to 29-25 on a Thompson winner before an attacking error gave FSU game one 30-25.
The rookie Wessel was tops on the team with seven kills while Thompson was one back with six winners. The biggest difference in the game was the Seminoles’ blocking as they held a 5-0 margin at the net with Griffin contributing a solo block and a pair of blocking assists. Florida State held a .286 (20-8-42) to .150 (13-7-40) advantage in hitting percentage.
Mirroring game one, the second stanza was another see-saw battle with a VT kill tying the game at 21-21. Back-to-back attacking errors opened a 23-21 advantage for the Seminoles that they expanded to four (26-22) on back-to-back kills by Skower and Thompson. The Hokies closed to within two 27-25, but an attacking error slowed VT’s momentum long enough for Wessel and Tomic to record kills that gave FSU the 30-26 decision.
Matching her game one total was Thompson as she had a team-best six kills, while Skower had four and Wessel chipped in three more. Weissing added a half dozen digs. The Seminoles eliminated many of the mistakes they made in game one for a game-high .412 (17-3-34) to .364 (17-5-33) lead in hitting percentage.
Out of the intermission, the Seminoles appeared to be their way to a 3-0 sweep as they held an 18-15 lead in game three. Unfortunately, the Hokies went on a 6-0 run that gave the hosts a 21-18 lead they would extend to 24-20. Florida State would get the deficit down to one as late as 27-26 on a Barry kill but VT closed the game out with a kill and a block in between an FSU blocking error for the 30-26 win
Barry was the go-to player in game five as she notched five kills, while Thompson was one back as the only other player with more than two kills. Virginia Tech held the .189 (15-8-37) to .125 (15-10-40) advantage in hitting.
The match appeared to be going the distance as the Hokies got out to a quick start that they parlayed into a 14-9 advantage. A 5-0 run by FSU tied the match at 14-14, but Virginia Tech regained the momentum as it took a 20-16 lead. A 5-2 run capped by a Skower ace drew the Seminoles within one (22-21), but VT grouped at 25-21 before the Seminoles started their march toward victory.
A Hokie service error led to a four-point run off the serve of rookie Jackie BonSalle (Albuquerque, N.M.) that included kills by Barry and Thompson as FSU opened a 27-25 lead on Thompson’s 23rd kill of the night. Florida State had a pair of chances to close out the match but Virginia Tech tied the bout at 29-29 on an attack error. The Seminoles got the lead permanently on another VT service error then seniors Skower and Griffin end the match with a block for the 31-29 victory.
The Thompson-Barry combination was big in game four as Thompson notched a match-high seven kills in the fourth stanza while the rookie middle blocker was one back. Griffin had nine of her 12 digs in game four and Weissing contributed seven.
“We definitely did not want to go five in that gym,” Kress noted. “Virginia Tech played its best in game four and the first three-quarters of game four so we did not want to go to five. When we took the time out we talked about finishing it off in four. They had all the momentum in the world, but the girls fought and made the plays they needed to make.
“Sarah had some key digs, Jackie served well and Makini had some critical swings. A lot of things happened in game four, but it all started with defense and that was a big reason for the turnaround. We had a match up that we like with Bri (Barry) but we weren’t getting her the ball enough. Even though she’s a freshman teams are still game planning for her.”
Florida State continues its road swing Saturday night (October 14) when it travels to Charlottesville, Va., for a 7:30 pm bout at Virginia in a 7:30 bout.