Aug. 17, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State University volleyball team follows its historic 2009 season with the conference-wide expectations of winning the 2010 title, according to the ACC coaches’ poll released Tuesday morning.
FSU and Duke each totaled 108 points out of a possible 121, while the Seminoles topped the Blue Devils with five first-place votes to four, respectively. Both schools will meet just once in the regular season on Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. at Tully Gym in Tallahassee.
“We certainly feel honored that the coaches in the league have picked us to be at the top of the conference along with Duke,” coach Chris Poole said. “This puts a target straight on our backs. We were not picked to win the conference last season and went into the ACC very relaxed. This will be a different experience for this program.”
The Seminoles return three starters and eight letterwinners overall from their Elite Eight squad that gave the school its first outright ACC championship last season with a 19-1 conference mark. Reigning American Volleyball Coaches Association Honorable Mention All-American Rachael Morgan, a junior outside hitter, joins senior and sophomore outside hitters Stephanie Neville and Fatma Yildirim as FSU’s lone returning starters.
“I’m very proud of Stephanie, Rachael and Fatma’s selection to the preseason all-ACC team. It is a reflection of what they contributed to our program last season and they will be expected to carry a heavy load this fall,” Poole added.
Morgan, Neville and Yildirim were honored as three of 18 members on the 2010 Preseason All-ACC Team, which was also selected by the league’s head coaches. Last season, Morgan finished with 349 points, including 281 kills and 161 digs. Neville recorded 286 kills and a .309 hitting percentage, while Yildirim broke through with 344 digs, trailing only senior Jenna Romanelli’s 381.
FSU, which was predicted to finish second in 2009, is looking to earn consecutive NCAA postseason trips for the first time since the 1997-98 seasons. Poole, the reigning ACC Coach of the Year, guided the program to its first NCAA postseason berth since 2002 in just his second season at the helm.
“We have a lot of work to do to live up to the expectations we have created over the past two seasons,” Poole stated. “We have talent returning and we have added a talented recruiting class. If we can blend this team together and create a positive chemistry in a short amount of time, I do believe this team can have another successful season.”
The top four teams in the 2010 ACC poll were separated by just 16 points. Receiving the final three first-place votes was Georgia Tech, which was predicted to finish third with 103 points. Miami (92) and North Carolina (75) rounded out the top five.
Clemson came in sixth with 71 points, followed closely by Virginia in seventh with 70 points. Virginia Tech (55), Maryland (40), Wake Forest (38), NC State (20) and Boston College (12) completed the 2010 predicted order of finish.
Nine teams are represented on the 2010 Preseason All-ACC team. Georgia Tech led all conference teams with four selections, while predicted co-first place finishers FSU and Duke each had three. Clemson and Miami claimed two honorees apiece. Four schools tallied one recipient including North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
The preseason team includes seven American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America Honorable Mention recipients: Morgan of FSU; Sandra Adeleye of Clemson; Kellie Catanach of Duke; Monique Mead and Mary Ashley Tippins of Georgia Tech; Lane Carico of Miami; and Felicia Willoughby of Virginia Tech.
A league-record five teams are coming off appearances in the 2009 NCAA Volleyball Championship.
The Seminoles will unofficially begin their season with a tune-up against former FSU standouts in the Alumni Match on Saturday, Aug. 21, at 3 p.m. at Tully Gym. The match is preceded by the Garnet-Gold scrimmage at 1:30 p.m.