Aug. 30, 2011
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Although they held sizeable leads early in the second and third sets, the 25th-ranked Florida State University indoor volleyball team was unable to hang on and fell to the No. 9 Florida Gators in three sets (25-21, 25-22, 25-22) at the Stephen O’Connell Center on Tuesday evening.
The Seminoles (3-1) were held to a .137 clip offensively, while the Gators (3-0) weren’t too much more effective with a .238 hitting percentage. Senior All-American Kelly Murphy was UF’s go-to person when trouble was near, recording 12 kills and 17 assists. Throughout the contest, FSU passed fairly well and handled UF’s jump serves for the most part, but was unable to withstand a Gator run when holding big leads.
Jekaterina Stepanova led FSU with 10 kills, while newcomer Elise Walch showed some offensive proficiency with eight kills and a .304 hitting percentage. Redshirt freshman libero Katie Mosher led the way with 17 digs, while junior Duygu Duzceler added 19 assists.
In the first set, FSU wasn’t able to put together many quality chances on offense as it was held to .029 hitting percentage by an active Florida defense. Despite the low mark, the Seminoles hung around after falling behind 15-10, pulling it to within two points at 22-20 on a kill by Rachael Morgan and an attack error by UF’s Chanel Brown to force a Florida timeout. However, consecutive calls for Murphy resulted in kills and Cassandra Anderson ended the set on a kill.
FSU took a sizeable 9-1 advantage in the second set as its service game originally foiled Florida’s offense. Morgan had two kills to start the set and a service ace to put the Seminoles ahead by eight points, but the Gators looked to Murphy as they often do when they get behind. She recorded four kills, two assists and an ace in the second frame, although Stepanova found her rhythm by countering with six kills of her own.
Florida took control of the set when it made a 7-0 run to take a 19-15 lead. Walch aided the offense when she recorded her third kill of the set to tie it at 22-22 and force a Gator timeout. Following the break, much didn’t go FSU’s way as a kill by Stephanie Ferrell was followed by an apparent kill by Walch that was ruled an attack error despite appearing to nick a UF back-row player. The set point resulted in a kill by UF in another close ball that grazed the back line.
The third set was similar to the second set. FSU reached six and seven-point leads, including 17-11 late in the frame. UF countered with a run that was stopped by a kill from Visnja Djurdjevic to make it 21-18. From there, UF used some kills, a block and miscues by the Seminoles to win a match that could have gone either way.
Tonight’s loss is FSU’s 21st in a row against Florida on the volleyball court dating back to Oct. 10, 1995. The contest also marked the second consecutive season both teams faced off as nationally-ranked opponents, the first time such has happened in the 56-match history of the two teams. Florida leads the overall series now at 35-21.
The Seminoles get back to action with another tough tournament at the Delaware Invitational. FSU faces 14th-ranked Northern Iowa on Friday, Sept. 2, at 4 p.m. before taking on Delaware and UC-Irvine on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.