Sept. 10, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. – It was the match that much of the team had been looking forward to all season. In the end, the 17th-ranked Florida State University women’s volleyball team completed its second win of the day in front of 1,257 fans on the road against Kentucky, winning in five sets and earning a Top 25 nonconference win at Memorial Coliseum.
The Seminoles (7-1) defeated their Sweet 16 counterpart from one season ago, winning 3-2 (21-25, 25-22, 25-20, 17-25, 15-6) over UK tonight. FSU also defeated Big 12 opponent Kansas State earlier in the day, 3-2 (19-25, 25-19, 25-15, 20-25, 15-11).
In the second match against the Kentucky Wildcats (4-4), middle blocker Sareea Freeman finished with 10 kills, seven block assists and a .389 hitting percentage. Senior Lauren Young also bolstered the middle blocking unit with five kills and a block.
“We played well in the second match,” coach Chris Poole said after an exhausting but successful day for his team. “We had much better middle production. Lauren and Sareea played well for us against Kentucky. Our team stayed with it in front of a good Kentucky crowd, worked hard and found a way to keep their heads in it.”
Junior outside hitters Jekaterina Stepanova and Visnja Djurdjevic each recorded double-doubles in both matches. Djurdjevic ended her standout day with a 15-kill, 20-dig performance versus Kentucky, while Stepanova recorded 11 kills and 16 digs.
“Visnja and Kate were absolute workhorses today,” Poole added. “Both played the full time, stood up well and made great plays. It was a total team effort. Kentucky was well-rested and did not play a match before, so I thought our team really showed their resilience.”
One of the unsung heroes for FSU in match two was senior defensive specialist Taylor Wilson, who is a two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District member. The Clearwater, Fla., native put the match away with consecutive service aces to clinch FSU’s biggest nonconference win of the season.
“Taylor stepped in and got points 14 and 15 for us in the final set. She stepped in and played well, and that’s what we have to have,” Poole stated.
Duygu Duzceler contributed with 29 assists and four digs, while fellow setter Patricia Figueiredo added 23 assists and four digs. Jenna Romanelli had 19 digs, and senior outside hitter Stephanie Neville posted a season-high 15 kills against UK.
Stepanova’s best outing as a Florida State Seminole led her team to an exciting victory over Kansas State earlier in the day.
Stepanova, a junior college transfer from Missouri State-West Plains, recorded her second double-double of the season, and her first of the day, after amassing season highs of 20 kills and 17 digs for the Seminoles. The Riga, Latvia, native also led the team with a .306 hitting percentage while mustering 49 total attacks on the afternoon.
Djurdjevic, FSU’s leader in kills, tied her season high with 17, and tallied a season-best 21 digs. The Zitiste, Serbia, native also had two block assists and a service ace versus KSU.
FSU found a way to win this afternoon’s match despite hitting .138, its lowest in eight matches played this year. In a match that lasted two hours and 13 minutes, the Seminoles exposed their tremendous depth as 11 of their 15 student-athletes played at least one set.
“It was a win but a disappointing effort on offense,” Poole said of his team’s performance against KSU. “Visnja and Kate (Stepanova) were the only two that were effective. KSU is very well coached and did a great job pushing us through the match.”
Romanelli finished with 23 digs in five sets, and added two assists and a service ace. Duzceler’s assist total climbed as a result of the extended match, recording a career-high 31. Figueiredo added 17 assists in five sets played.
FSU stumbled in the beginning as it fell in the first set to the Kansas State Wildcats (5-4), who were fresh off a 3-0 victory over Atlantic Coast Conference school Georgia Tech enter this afternoon’s contest. KSU hit .344 as a team in the opening set to take the early 1-0 lead.
The Seminoles benefitted from 12 errors by the Wildcats in the second set. Djurdjevic and Stepanova combined for nine of FSU’s 10 kills, while Neville added the other on an assist from Romanelli to put FSU in command at 22-14.
FSU’s best hitting came in the third set, recording a .231 clip. The Seminoles had 15 kills compared to just eight by KSU, as Freeman contributed with three of her five kills overall. Freeman and sophomore Marija Milosavljevic also had six blocks assists each in the match.
The Wildcats showed their resilience in the fourth frame as they posted 16 kills. Kathleen Ludwig and Kaitlynn Pelger each recorded four kills as KSU built an early 10-3 lead before coming away with the set.
In the final set, FSU had several players come through when it mattered most. FSU took a quick 4-2 lead on a kill by Djurdjevic, then went up 6-3 on a kill by Rachael Morgan. Stepanova later scored on three consecutive points for FSU to put the Seminoles ahead 13-7 before Freeman ended the match on a kill that was assisted by Duzceler.
FSU looks to finish undefeated at the Kentucky Tournament with a matchup against Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.
“VCU is good team. They do a lot of things well,” Poole added. “They played a close match with KSU today. We’ll have to come out ready to play tomorrow.”