PITTSBURGH, Pa. – (Seminoles.com) – In front of a record-setting crowd at the Fitzgerald Field House and facing a feat that has not been conquered this season, the fourth-ranked Florida State indoor volleyball team (20-0, 8-0) erased a 2-0 deficit and stormed back to defeat Pittsburgh (17-3, 5-2) 3-2 (24-26, 18-25, 25-17, 25-19, 15-11) on Friday night.
“We showed a lot of character,” FSU head coach Chris Poole said. “We fought through adversity on the road in front of a great crowd. It was a lot of fun in the end, but the girls really turned it around and played the way they’re capable of instead of laying down and giving it away.”
In the fifth, Pitt jumped out to the lead, forcing the Seminoles to side out before the panthers went up by a pair 6-4 causing Coach Poole to call timeout.
Out of break, the Seminoles grabbed the next two points with a kill from sophomore outside hitter Katie Horton that followed an attack error to tie before the Panthers sided out to take back the edge 7-6.
Freshman right side hitter Milica Kubura slammed home a kill before teaming up with junior outside hitter Nicole Walch for the block to go up 8-7 at the net switch.
At the switch, Walch fired one to the back corner for the 9-7 lead that would send Pitt into a timeout.
Following the break, Pitt earned the side out but Kubura fired a kill. Poole then went to the bench and subbed in freshman defensive specialist Cecilie Woie to serve.
The Panthers could not handle the delivery from Woie, setting up Walch for the easy kill and 11-8 lead and Pitt would called its final timeout.
After the break, the Panthers grabbed the next two points before Walch put one away for the side out up 12-10, but the Panthers fought back with a kill.
Following the side out Pitt was called for a bad set before junior middle blocker Kiara Wright stretched for a solo block, setting up match point, 14-11.
The Seminoles captured their sixth, fifth-set win of 2014, 15-11, 3-2 after Wright put away a shot from the middle.
Walch led the Seminole attack with 24 kills, hitting for .400 percent while Kubura produced nine.
“We just didn’t want to give up,” Walch said. “We were calm and we knew what we needed to do and I just made sure to do my part. It was a total team effort and I am proud we were able to steal the win.”
The Seminoles put up a season high of 23 total team blocks, with Wright and redshirt sophomore Sarah Burrington leading the charge. Wright posted two solo stops and 10 assists, while Burrington registered ten assists and a solo stop. Redshirt junior middle blocker Mercedes Vaughn had eight block assists.
“We talked about the blocking this week,” Poole said. “We knew it was going to be key for us to beat this team. As the match went on we got better and better on the block. We had several players step up big both blocking and attacking.”
Senior setter Sarah Wickstrom tallied 26 assists while sophomore setter Hailey Luke produced 21 and two aces.
Redshirt senior libero Katie Moshe was under 15 digs.
The Seminoles took over the lead in the first after a 5-0 stretch with Luke on serve, 16-13. During the run Wright was a monster at the net, putting up three blocks.
Following the stretch, Pitt went on an 8-3 run to take back the lead 21-19. The Seminoles grabbed the next two points by ways of an error and a Walch kill to tie at 21. The teams traded side outs twice for another stalemate at 23.
Pitt took the first set point, before Walch put a shot away to tie 24-24.
The Panthers would take the first 26-24 after a kill and a block, putting the Seminoles in a 1-0 hole.
In the second Pitt kept the momentum and went up 12-5 causing Florida State to burn both of its timeouts.
The Seminoles chipped away at the lead and pulled within three, but could not overcome the deficit, falling 25-18.
In the third, the Seminoles bust open a 15-10 lead thanks to a 6-2 charge forcing Pitt to burn two timeouts.
Following the break, Florida State found its rhythm stretching the advantage to 23-14 before Vaughn went up for the solo stop giving the Seminoles their first set point. Pitt shook off a pair before committing a service error, giving the Noles the third, 25-17.
“Pitt was a great team,” Poole said. “They came out with a plan and they executed very well. It was a matter of us raising our level up and we talked about how we were down 2-0 was irrelevant and we needed to come back and play and I thought that third set we came out and set that tone.”
Cutting the Panther lead, 2-1, the Seminoles jumped in front in the fourth 9-5. Pitt chipped at the lead with a 9-5 swing, tying the set 14-14 forcing Poole to call timeout.
Out of the break, the Seminoles recharged an rallied the next three points by ways of a kill from Horton before she teamed up with Burrington for a block, which was followed by an error from the Panthers, forcing them to burn their final timeout.
With the 17-14 lead, the Seminoles extended the advantage to 19-14 with Wickstrom on serve before the Panthers sided out.
Pitt would take the next three points cutting the FSU lead 19-17 causing Coach Poole to call his final timeout.
Out of the break, the Panthers extended the run tying it at 19 before Walch sent a shot off the dig and into the stands for the 20-19 lead.
Poole subbed in the Pittsburgh, Pa. native Laura Dadowski, who led the Seminoles to finish the fourth set, 25-19 tying the match 2-2.
“These are the matches we needed to stay sharp,” Poole said. “We needed to battle adversity and fight through it and to do that on the road is even sweeter. They showed a tremendous amount of character, we’ve used that word a lot this year because it really does show when we’re struggling and how we come back and never give up.”
Florida State delivered a 15-11, fifth set win.
The Seminoles will travel to Winston-Salem, N.C. for a match against Wake Forest on Sunday at 12 p.m. For more information on FSU volleyball visit Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.