SEATTLE, Wash. – (Seminoles.com) The No. 8/6 Florida State indoor volleyball team was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the Seattle Regional Semifinal by No. 12 BYU, 3-1 (20-25, 19-25, 25-19, 26-24) on Friday at the Alaska Airlines Arena.
“We had a great year,” FSU head coach Chris Poole said. “We accomplished a lot. It’s always going to hurt when you lose in the end. It’s disappointing. Certainly we had our opportunities. Every point counts. We’ve talked about that all year about how every ball that drops and how every pass that is made is important and how it can make the difference between winning and losing at the end and it did for us in that fourth set. BYU is a great team. They’re big and physical and we knew that. I felt like that threw us off a little in the first part of the match, but we were getting better and better as the match went on and we showed a lot of character to keep fighting.”
Junior outside hitter Nicole Walch found her stride in the third set and finished the match with a double-double, 23 kills and 10 digs despite battling the national leaders in blocking, while sophomore Katie Horton tallied nine kills and 15 digs.
Freshman right side hitter Milica Kubura provided a lift on the attack, producing 11 kills, hitting for .471 percent while adding three blocks.
The Seminoles had eight total team blocks with redshirt sophomore middle blocker Sarah Burrington accounting for four and 10 kills. Junior Kiara Wright produced four blocks and seven kills.
Senior setter Sarah Wickstrom put up a double-double, accounting for 28 assists while leading the team with 19 digs. Sophomore setter Hailey Luke tallied 22 assists. Redshirt senior libero Katie Mosher was under 18 digs on defense.
In the first, the Seminoles struck first jumping out to a 6-2 lead with Burrington on serve and BYU called its first timeout. Off the timeout, the Cougars answered with a 3-0 scamper before FSU responded with a 3-0 rally of its own for the 9-5 advantage.
BYU put the pressure on the Noles, forcing a few miscues before tying it at 9. BYU pulled ahead by a pair, but Burrington delivered a kill down the middle before the Cougars committed an attacking error for the 14-14 tie.
The Cougars would break open a four-point advantage off a 5-0 run and Poole would use his second timeout down 14-19.
BYU extended the run to 7-0 before Walch put down the kill for the side out down 15-21. The Seminoles refused to quit, mustering up a 5-1 charge with production from the block and back-to-back kills from Kubura to pull within three, 23-20 and BYU would call its final timeout.
Out of the break, the Cougars earned the side out before delivering the final point with a kill for the 25-20 first set lead.
After falling in a three-point hole early in the second, the Seminoles battled back and took over the lead 8-7 however, BYU pulled ahead by two at the media timeout 15-13.
Out of the break, the Seminoles hit into the block twice, falling behind by four, 17-13 and Poole would use a timeout.
The Cougars added an ace, but the Seminoles responded with a 3-0 rally. After Horton put down a kill following a stretch where the ball was kept alive twice, allowing FSU to reset and run the offense, BYU called timeout up 18-16.
After, the Cougars added to their lead, 20-16 before the Seminoles answered with a pair of their own, pulling within three but BYU put down a pair of kills after the block by Burrington for the 23-18 lead and Poole would use his final timeout of the set.
The Seminoles hit into the block before siding out and the Cougars found the open spot on the court for the 25-19, second set and 2-0 lead.
“We’ve had a lot of confidence in this team,” Poole said. “We’ve been down like this before this season and we fought our way back. We knew we could do it and we just knew we needed to be cleaner with our touches and we started doing that in the third set.”
In the third, FSU fell into a three point hole before climbing out to tie at eight. After ties at 10 and 11, BYU went up by a pair, but kills from Burrington and Wright knotted it right back up at 14. However, the Cougars took the 15-14 lead into the media timeout after earning the side out with a kill.
“The coaches kept telling us to run a fast offense,” Burrington said. “We knew it was working for us and that was the thing we kept talking about.”
Following the media break, Walch swung for the kill for the side out to go on serve. Wright and Kubura went up for the block before Walch dished an ace would ricochet off the tape and onto the floor for the 17-15 advantage. BYU called its first timeout.
BYU answered with a big side out from the back row, but Walch showed her strength from the back row with a powerful strike down the middle. Mosher followed with an ace before Walch took over the set with two more kills for the 23-18 lead, putting down nine for the third set. The Cougars would use their final timeout.
Out of the break, Walch and Burrington stood tall for the block teeing up set point, 24-18. The Cougars would side out with a kill, but Burrington found the back corner off the sweep for the 25-19, third set win, cutting the BYU lead to 2-1.
In the fourth, The Seminoles jumped in front to 6-2 lead before BYU called timeout. FSU continued to fire for the 11-5 lead before the Cougars found a rhythm with four-straight points and Poole would call timeout with the 11-9 lead.
After, BYU sent a service long and failed to control one and FSU went back up by four, 13-9. BYU delivered two more kills, but the Seminoles answered with a 3-0 rally fueled by two kills from Horton and an ace before the Cougars would use their final timeout, 16-11.
BYU responded with 3-0 stretch of its own and Poole would use a timeout. After trading side outs twice, the Seminoles pulled ahead by four after a kill from Walch and a big solo stop by Wright, 20-16. BYU rallied to within one before Kubura put down consecutive chances for the 22-19 edge.
After the teams traded side outs, the Seminoles had set point after Burrington put away a shot off the sweep, 24-21 but BYU refused to quit and defended three-straight set points before tying it 24-24. The Cougars put up a block for match point and would finish off the match with five consecutive points, 26-24, defeating the Seminoles 3-1.
“We’ve got some fighters on this team,” Poole said. “We knew they weren’t going to give up and they worked hard throughout the match. It’s unfortunate when you lose in this situation. But two good teams played tonight, we battled and BYU was the better team tonight.”
Florida State finishes the 2014 season with 30-3 record (.909 percent), a second-straight Sweet 16 appearance, a senior class that achieved 112 career wins while earning the highest ranking (No. 3) and NCAA Tournament seed (No. 6) in school history.
“We’ve been making history from beginning to end,” Wickstrom said. “It’s sad to see it end. It’s been the best four years.”
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