Oct. 6, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A measuring-stick weekend lies ahead for the 24th-ranked Florida State University indoor volleyball team as it faces an opponent that is also undefeated in the ACC in North Carolina as well as an upstart North Carolina State squad that is enjoying a fine season.
While the Seminoles (11-4, 5-0) have started off hot within the conference with an unblemished 5-0 mark, they’ve yet to face as big of a road challenge in the ACC as they will on Friday night. UNC is coming off a 3-2 victory over rival N.C. State on Tuesday night and has won three of its five conference matches in straight sets. Junior outside hitter Emily McGee posted 19 kills and a season-best 22 digs in the match, and has now recorded three consecutive double-doubles.
Within the ACC, the Tar Heels (13-3, 5-0) have also edged Maryland (3-0), Boston College (3-0), Clemson (3-2) and Georgia Tech (3-0). They were defeated at Florida earlier in the year in straight sets, and also lost to Tulsa at home, whom FSU defeated by a 3-1 margin on Aug. 27. UNC trails the Seminoles for second place overall in hitting percentage within the ACC, showing a .278 percentage. UNC is averaging a conference-best 14.76 kills per match.
Despite falling to one of its conference rivals, N.C. State is have a strong season that includes quality victories over Wisconsin (3-2) as well as Georgia Tech (3-2). The Wolfpack (14-4, 2-3) are led by the hitting of attacker Margaret Salata, who is third in the ACC with a .388 overall hitting percentage and fifth with 3.34 kills per set. Setter Megan Cyr is tied with Miami’s Katie Gallagher for the league lead in assists per set with 11.
FSU holds a 37-5 lead in its all-time series against N.C. State, which includes a 22-match winning streak. The Seminoles have not lost to the Wolfpack since Nov. 13, 1999, which is FSU’s longest active win streak against any ACC opponent. Its next longest streak over a conference opponent is seven versus Boston College.
Watch Out For Walch
Since conference play began against Miami on Sept. 14, sophomore right-side hitter Elise Walch has stepped up her game on the offensive end.
The Stuart, Fla., native is the ACC’s leader in hitting percentage in conference matches, hitting .526 with 47 kills in 17 sets played. In 78 total attacks within conference play, Walch has only committed six errors.
Four of her last five performances speak for themselves. Against Miami, Walch registered a career-best .706 hitting percentage with 12 kills, then hit .583 with seven kills two matches later against Virginia Tech.
Walch’s last two matches include 12 kills and one error in 18 attacks versus Duke, equaling a .611 hitting percentage. In FSU’s five-set match against Wake Forest, Walch recorded 11 kills and a .409 mark.
For the season, Walch leads the Seminoles with a .399 attack percentage.
Looking For Best ACC Start
In terms of FSU’s 5-0 start in ACC play, only the 1993 team holds up since the Seminoles joined the conference in 1991.
In that season, the Seminoles began conference play by defeating Clemson, Georgia Tech, N.C. State twice and Virginia before falling to Maryland to equal a 5-1 mark. Should FSU earn a big road win at North Carolina, its 6-0 ACC mark would be the best start in school history in ACC play.
Prior to joining the ACC, the last time FSU went 5-0 to start conference play was 1989 when it finished 10-0 in the Metro Conference.
Huge Game for Marija
After losing the first set to Wake Forest by a 25-22 score, FSU needed a spark at the net that could prevent the Demon Deacons from getting quality attacks.
Thankfully, junior middle blocker Marija Milosavljevic’s entrance into the match helped change the whole outcome of the contest. The Bajina Basta, Serbia, native recorded a career-high 12 blocks in just four sets of action, equaling the most by a Seminole since Lauren Young recorded the same amount on Oct. 1, 2010, at N.C. State.
Milosavljevic even came through when it mattered most, compiling three of her blocks in the final set. She also added four kills, and more importantly, has sprung her confidence in what might have been her breakthrough performance.
Impressive Streak Snapped
To begin play in the ACC, the Seminoles won their first four matches in straight sets before winning a five-setter versus Wake Forest.
FSU’s solid play in its first four matches marked the first time since the 2006 season that it had won four consecutive matches in straight sets. During that year, the Seminoles won by 3-0 scores consecutively over Mercer, Stetson, South Alabama and Eastern Illinois.
The fact that FSU accomplished the feat within the ACC was even more impressive. It was the first time since the 1998 season that the Seminoles won in straight sets over four straight ACC opponents. In that year, FSU swept nine in a row.
Surpassing an FSU Coaching Legend
Now into his 25th season coaching at the Division I level, current FSU head coach Chris Poole has amassed 635 career victories, which ties FSU volleyball coaching legend Cecile Reynaud on the NCAA all-time wins list.
From 1976-2001, Reynaud compiled an impressive 635-326-1 mark while coaching in Tallahassee, equating to a .661 winning percentage. Her work as FSU’s leader helped shape the program, taking the Seminoles to 10 NCAA Tournaments and three AIAW Tournaments.
Poole and Reynaud are now tied for 25th on the NCAA all-time wins list. Poole trails former Northwestern coach Jerry Angle by six wins for the 24th spot.
For more information on the FSU indoor volleyball team, click HERE.