TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – (Seminoles.com) The Florida State indoor volleyball team put together another record-setting year in 2014, finishing the season with a second-consecutive Sweet 16 appearance before finishing ranked 10th in the AVCA poll with a record of 30-3.
The Seminoles have now been included in 58 straight polls, while turning in the second highest finish to a season in school history.
“This was truly an amazing season,” FSU head Coach Chris Poole said. “We had a lot of question marks having lost five starters from the year before. Recruiting always takes a hit when you lose your recruiting coordinator and we had lost two in less than a year. We went out last spring determined to get better with the eight returning players and added nine new players to our roster in the fall.”
With nine new players added to the lineup, including five transfers the Seminoles would rely heavily on veteran leadership heading into the season ranked No. 13 in the preseason AVCA poll.
“I’m proud of the leadership we had from our two captains, Katie Mosher and Sarah Wickstrom,” Poole said. “Those young ladies were freshman when we went to the Final Four in 2011 and they were determined to make this a successful year, even with all the new faces on the team. For us to go 30-3, to make it to the Sweet 16 and to finish third in the final NCAA RPI, we could not have asked for a better season.”
Mosher and Wickstrom left their marks on FSU history as one of the best four-year senior classes, finishing with an overall record of 112-22 which is the best class under Coach Poole and fifth best in school history.
“Katie Mosher and Sarah Wickstrom are two of the most unselfish and role models that I have ever had on the team,” Poole said. “These two young ladies accomplished an amazing amount of success in four years. I feel certain there are players all over the country that would love to have their accolades. Sarah was a steady player that made great decisions and gave 100 percent every time she walked on the court. She was a great leader for us and played with a great level of maturity. Katie found a way to make our team better on every rally. I could not be more proud of both of these young ladies and the way they led our team on and off the court and in the classroom.”
In addition to seasoned leadership, the Seminoles were led by junior outside hitter Nicole Walch who finished the season with AVCA All-America Second Team honors behind 487 kills (3.99 per set), 306 digs and 35 aces.
Nicole Walch hits through the block for a kill.
“Our level of success was tied to how well Nicole was performing,” Poole said, “She had a huge year for us and as a full rotation player. She had many touches on the ball both in the front row and back row. As a staff, we knew that if Nicole was playing well, we were very difficult to beat and we were fortunate that Nicole was in a groove most of the time. Nicole came to FSU with very limited back row skills. She has made huge strides in every part of her game during her career. I would expect her to have a great off season and to challenge for a first team All-American spot next season.”
Walch will return for her senior season in 2015 on pace to break into the top ten FSU All-Time Kills list. She currently has 1,007 kills for her career.
The Seminoles finished 2014 after falling 3-1 to BYU in the Seattle Regional Semifinal. It was the second year FSU was knocked out by a team that rode a winning streak to the National Final where they lost to Penn State in straight sets.
“This was a team with a lot of balance,” Poole said, “Not all players played great every match, but we had people stepping up when needed. It wasn’t always easy and there were times we would get down in a set or match, but they never gave up. They always kept fighting. Even in our final loss of the season, it took a hot BYU team that ending up going all the way to the National Championship to beat us. Even in that match, their 6’7″ All-American had to literally have a career kills night in order to knock us out. I’m very proud of this team and with only losing two players total, I am very excited about next season.”
Here are some of the top moments of 2014:
– No. 13 FSU 3, No. 7 Nebraska 1 – In front of almost a crowd of 9,000 fans the Seminoles pulled off a big, 3-1 upset to kick off the 2014 season in the AVCA Showcase in Lincoln. It was the first non-conference regular season loss at home for the Cornhuskers since 2009. Mosher provided dazzling defense with 33 digs while Walch and sophomore outside hitter Katie Horton put down double-doubles. Walch had 18 kills and 15 digs, while Horton made her debut in the Garnet and Gold with career highs of 17 kills and 11 digs.
Nicole Walch tries to tip a shot past the Florida block.
– No. 8 FSU 3, No. 11 Florida 2 – It was the first time in school history that the Seminoles were ranked ahead of the Gators at the time of the Sunshine Showdown. Following two wins on the road in the AVCA Showcase, the Noles returned home in front of a rowdy above capacity crowd in Tully Gym and defeated Florida for the third time since 2012 in five sets. Walch led the attack with 15 kills and 10 digs, however freshman right side hitter Milica Kubura produced 14 kills, hitting for .400 percent providing the lift the Noles needed to knock of the Gators.
“We went into Nebraska in front of 8,800 fans for the first match of the season with a lot of question marks,” Poole said. “We finished that weekend with two big victories. We came back home to beat a very physical and athletic Florida team. It was at that point that we knew this was a very special group of young ladies and they were very determined to work hard every day. The chemistry overall was incredible on this team. We had many different lineups and we could have used and different players shifting around. However, the players trusted the staff to do our job and they stepped up ready to play every match no matter what was asked of them.”
– No. 8 FSU wins two more five-set thrillers in Washington – Following the rivalry match against the Gators, the Seminoles jumped on a plane to Washington, D.C. for the American Tournament, where they would face Marquette and American – two teams that have been in and out of the Top 25 and consistently NCAA Tournament teams. FSU first defeated Marquette 3-2 as Walch had 24 kills while Burrington had a career day on the attack with 16 kills hitting for .682. Within 24 hours, FSU the held off the home team, American 3-2 with Walch accounting for 18 kills and 10 digs with Horton producing 17 kills, hitting for .412. The Seminoles also got a total of 11 blocks on the weekend from junior middle blocker Kiara Wright.
– FSU knocks off No. 21 Texas A&M twice – Playing the Aggies twice within 24 hours, the Seminoles first held on to win 3-1 before dominating the second match with a 3-0 sweep in College Station. Horton stepped up this weekend, producing 15 kills in the first match, before following with 13 in the second. Junior outside hitter Karlie Hauer also contributed a career high of nine kills in the three-set sweep.
Sarah Burrington looks for a shot to the corner against North Carolina
– No. 6 FSU Sweeps No. 12 North Carolina – After sweeping the Aggies the Seminoles continued with one of their best showings of 2014, sweeping ACC rival North Carolina in Tully Gym. The Seminoles were big on the block, accounting for 14 total with Burrington having six assists and one solo stop with Wright putting up three solo and three assists. Walch led with attack with 16 kills while amassing 14 digs.
– No. 5 FSU Outlast Miami in Five – On the road, the Seminoles picked up their 15th straight victory with a major boost from Mosher on defense. In front of her friends and family on a nationally-televised broadcast on ESPNU, Mosher was brilliant producing a new career high of 34 digs in order to break the FSU All-Time Digs record. She also had a career high of nine assists in the match.
“Her digging kept us in many matches over her career,” Poole said. “She made it frustrating for many opposing hitters. Katie breaking the career dig record is incredible because her career was played in the 25 point set, rally scoring era. There are many career records that exist from the side out era of 15 points and the initial rally scoring change of 30 point sets. I could not be more proud of her.”
– No. 4 FSU fights back to remain unbeaten at Pitt – In front of a record-setting crowd at the Fitzgerald Field House the Seminoles fell into a 0-2 hole to a team that was in desperate need of a signature win. The Seminoles stormed back, to win in five putting up their best blocking performance of the season, with 23.0 as Wright put up a season best 12 total, while redshirt sophomore Sarah Burrington had 10. After a shaky first two sets, Walch reloaded and carried the attack with 24 kills, hitting for .400 percent.
– Florida State wins 24 straight – the Seminoles won 24-straight matches following the 3-1 win over Virginia at Tully, climbing all the way to No. 3 in the AVCA Poll – which set both a school and ACC record. FSU also remained steady at No. 2 in the NCAA RPI before falling to No. 3 after a pair of losses to Duke and No. 8 North Carolina on the road.
– No. 8 FSU put up six straight 3-0 sweeps – After dropping a pair of losses to Duke and North Carolina, the Seminoles put up six-straight 3-0 sweeps included two in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. FSU closed out the regular season defeating four ACC opponents at home to remain unbeaten in Tully in conference play for three-straight seasons.
Other Individual Accolades
Nicole Walch defends a chance with a dig
– Walch became the third Seminole to capture AVCA All-America Second Team honors after posting a performance of 487 kills, 3.99 per set, 35 aces and 305 digs. The Stuart, Fla. native garnered All-ACC First Team honors in 2014 on top of three ACC Player of the Week honors. Walch established new single match career highs in kills (25 vs. Clemson) and aces (5 vs. NC State) while registering 15 double-doubles.
Katie Mosher dig tracker
– Mosher took over as the FSU All-Time Digs leader, finishing her career with 2,123 digs after posting 518, 4.18 per set for her final season – which is the second highest in school history behind her 604 she set in 2011. Mosher is the only Seminole in history to establish every season on the top 10 single-season digs list. In 2014, Mosher was named to the All-ACC first team before earning AVCA All-America honorable mention accolades. The three-year captain was also selected as a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award where she finished with Second-Team honors.
Sarah Wickstrom earns an assist
– Wickstrom finished her career with 2,915 which ties her for sixth place on the All-Time Assists list. She also established a single match career high in assists of 39 in the win over Marquette. Wickstrom also led the defense in the 3-1 loss vs. BYU with 19 digs, which was another career high.
The All-ACC honorees
– In addition to Walch and Mosher, Burrington captured All-ACC First team honors while earning AVCA All-America honorable mention accolades. Burrington finished with 178 total blocks, 1.44 per set while adding 260 kills for .406 percent, which is the fourth-best hitting percentage in school history.
– Wright and Horton earned All-ACC Second Team honors, while Horton was named as an AVCA All-America honorable mention. Wright finished second on the team with 148 total blocks averaging 1.19 per set while leading in solo stops with 21.
– Four players recognized with AVCA All-America honors ties the most in school history (2009).
– FSU dominated the East, with Walch, Horton, Mosher and Burrington all receiving All-Region honors. Kubura was an honorable mention.
Katie Horton sends a shot past the block for a kill
– Horton was chosen as the ACC Player of the Week following the wins at Texas A&M.
– Kubura was named to the All-ACC Freshman Team and an AVCA All-East Region honorable mention after producing 184 kills (2.02 per set) and 63 total blocks. The Belgrade, Serbia native was also selected as the ACC Freshman of the Week twice in 2014.
– Coach Poole was named as the AVCA East Region Coach of the Year.
The Seminoles will return 15 players from the 2014 season, while adding redshirt freshman outside hitter Christina Ambrose and freshman setter Brianne Burkert. After losing Mosher and Wickstrom on the court, associate head coach Ryan McGuyre was recently named the head coach at Baylor.
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