August 24, 2006 - by
FSU Volleyball Kicks Off 2006 Campaign With Doubleheader

Aug. 24, 2006

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Vs. Mississippi Valley State
Friday, August 25 12 p.m.
Macon, Ga. – University Center

At Mercer
Friday, August 25 6 p.m.
Macon, Ga. – University Center

Florida State (13-17, 11-11 ACC)
Home: 6-7
Away: 6-5
Neutral: 1-5
ACC: 11-11

Mississippi Valley St. (26-4, 7-1 SWAC)
Home: 11-0
Away: 11-1
Neutral: 4-3
SWAC: 7-1

Mercer (11-16, 4-5 A-SUN)
Home: 7-6
Away: 3-6
Neutral: 1-4
A-SUN: 4-5

Dig, Set, Spike (What You Need To Know):
• Florida State opens the 2006 campaign with a pair of matches in Macon, Ga. on August 25 — the earliest start in school history. The Seminoles take on Mississippi Valley State at 12 p.m. then return to face host Mercer at 6 p.m.

• The Seminoles are 2-0 versus Mercer, including a 3-0 win to open the 2005 campaign, and are playing the Devilettes for the first time.

• Defensive specialist Summer Weissing (Boca Raton, Fla.) is coming off a sophomore season in which she set the FSU single-season mark with 513 digs. She need 37 digs to move into 10th place on the FSU career chart.

• Junior outside hitter Makini Thompson (Quincy, Mass.) was named to the 2006 Preseason All-ACC Volleyball team.

• This year’s squad features eight newcomers, including 2005 First-Team All-Big South Conference selection Alex Plummer (Woodbury, Minn.), a sophomore transfer from Birmingham-Southern.

• Florida State ended the 2005 campaign by winning seven of its last ten matches, the third-best mark in the ACC during that stretch.

FSU Volleyball Kicks Off 2006 Campaign With Doubleheader
After finishing the 2005 campaign by winning seven of its last 10 matches, the 2006 campaign probably couldn’t get here soon enough for the Florida State volleyball team. The date the Seminoles have been waiting for has finally arrived as they start the 2006 slate with a pair of matches in Macon, Ga., on Friday (August 25). Florida State kicks off the year at 12 p.m. versus Mississippi Valley State then comes back to the University Center to take on host Mercer at 6 p.m. The Seminoles return to Tallahassee next week for the Florida State Invitational.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm
If it seems that this volleyball season has started a little earlier than normal, it’s because it has. Thanks to a rule change, teams were allowed to start a week earlier than in the past and the Seminoles are taking full advantage of that opportunity. Eight of the 12 ACC schools will be in action on the first day. Prior to this year, FSU’s earliest start came in 2003 when it opened with a pair of matches in the FSU Invitational on August 29. The Seminoles are 10-3 in the month of August and 3-3 under head coach Todd Kress.

Seminoles Have a Tradition of Starting the Season Strong
Florida State teams have always been very prepared for the beginning of the season as is indicated by its 24-6 record in the first match of the year. The record increases to 30-9 when factoring in all matches played on the first day of competition. Following last year’s 3-0 win over Mercer at home, the Seminoles have won three-straight season openers. The last loss was a 3-0 defeat at Illinois State in Todd Kress’ FSU debut in 2002. Coincidentally, that season ended in the NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles are 10-3 when playing their first match on a neutral court — which they will do Friday versus Mississippi Valley State — with the last lost coming in 1981 to Ohio State in Orlando.

Scouting Mississippi Valley State
Friday’s match with Mississippi Valley State marks the first match for Florida State against a team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Devilettes are coming off their second-straight 20-win season after a 26-4 record, but three of their four losses did come at a neutral site. During the 2005 campaign, MVSU led the league in hitting percentage (.262), kills (13.56/game) and aces (3.81/game). Outside hitter Ashley Robinson was named SWAC Preseason Player of the Year for a second year in a row.

Scouting Mercer
For the second-straight season, Florida State will see Mercer on the first day of competition, but for the first time they will meet on Mercer’s home court. The Seminoles opened the 2005 campaign by beating the Bears 3-0 (30-24, 30-14, 30-23) to kick off the FSU Invitational. FSU is 2-0 all-time versus Mercer with the only meeting being a 3-0 triumph (15-9, 15-7, 15-7) at the 1997 Florida Atlantic Tournament. Mercer finished the 2005 season at 11-6 with seven of those victories coming at home. The Bears top returning player is outside hitter Julie Darty who averaged 3.21 kills per game in 2005.

White Team Prevails Over Garnet Squad In Annual Scrimmage
In a final tune-up before the regular season, Florida State held its annual intersquad scrimmage with the white team defeating the garnet team 4-0 (30-27, 30-27, 30-15, 34-32). Middle blocker Sarah Griffin (Hereford, Texas) and freshman outside hitter Malorie Wessel (West Chester, Ohio) both had double-doubles with Griffin notching 16 kills and 14 digs, while Wessel added a match-best 22 kills and 12 digs. Zrinka Tomic (Nustar, Croatia) had 45 assists, while libero Summer Weissing (Boca Raton, Fla.) tallied 18 digs. Two more players reached double-digit kills with outside hitter Makini Thompson (Quincy, Mass.) recording 14 and rookie middle blocker Brianna Barry (Winter Springs, Fla.) contributing 11 more.

Seminoles Building Off Strong 2005 Finish
At the end of last season few teams in the conference were as hot as the Seminoles and none had come as far as FSU had from the start of the season. Florida State concluded the year by winning seven of its last ten matches and two of the three losses were to NCAA Tournament teams Duke and Maryland. A big reason for the improvement down the stretch was better defense. Statistically speaking, the Seminoles’ blocking effort was the best in over a decade and the 1,738 digs were the most in seven seasons.

League Coaches Tab FSU Sixth In Preseason Poll
Based on last year’s finish and a team comprised mainly of newcomers, the 12 conference coaches picked the Seminoles to finish sixth in the Preseason ACC Coaches’ Poll. Duke garnered eight of the 12 first-place votes to edge Virginia for the top spot. The Cavaliers received three first-place votes and came in just three points behind the Blue Devils’ 139 points. Georgia Tech got the remaining first-place vote, while North Carolina and Maryland rounded out the top five. The Seminoles finished 15 points behind the Terrapins and ten points ahead of Miami.

Thompson Earns A Spot On Preseason All-ACC Team
Along with the preseason poll, the ACC coaches also voted on an Preseason All-ACC Team. Making it onto the list from Florida State was junior outside hitter Makini Thompson. Last year Thompson was the only player on the team to rank in the top three for kills (2.57 per game), blocks (0.65 per game) and points (3.0 per game). Getting on the preseason team was a good omen for Andreza Santos last year as she went on to earn FSU’s second AVCA All-America award after garnering First-Team All-ACC honors.

What’s Back In 2006?
While Florida State only returns seven players from last season, all have valuable experience with every returner getting at least three starts and four of the seven have 20 or more starts. The biggest void that will have to be filled is in the scoring column as only 34 percent of last year’s kills and 36 percent of the points scored are back. The most experienced area is the setter position as both Jessica Skower 9Naples, Fla.) and Zrinka Tomic return, but Skower will see the majority of her playing time at outside hitter.

Hello My Name Is…
Name tags may have been appropriate for the first few days of practice as this year’s squad is comprised of eight newcomers with seven freshmen and one sophomore. The new faces on this year’s team are: setter Nikki Baker (Findlay, Ohio), middle blocker Brianna Barry (Winter Springs, Fla.), setter/defensive specialist Caitlin Belvin (Winter Park, Fla.), outside hitter Jackie BonSalle (Albuquerque, N.M.), defensive specialist Brittany Byrd (Orlando, Fla.), sophomore transfer Alex Plummer (Woodbury, Minn.) from Birmingham-Southern, outside hitter/defensive specialist Malorie Wessel (West Chester, Ohio) and middle blocker Lauren Young (Ben Wheeler, Texas).

Weissing Closing In On Career Digs List
Even though she’s only played two seasons at Florida State, libero Summer Weissing is approaching the career top ten list for digs. A product of Olympic Heights High School, the 5-foot-11 Weissing needs 37 digs to surpass Alex Sevillano for tenth on the list. At her current rate, the junior is pace to break Luiza Ruiz’s career record of 1,771 digs.

Skower Eyes Up No. 3 Spot On Assist Charts
The last seven years has produced three of the top four setters in school history as Jessica Skower moved into the No. 4 position on the career assist list in 2005. The senior has a chance to move up one spot by the end of her career as Fiona Bolton is in third place, just 73 assists ahead. Even though she averaged 989 assists a year, it may be challenging for Skower to reach Bolton as she moves from setter to outside hitter this season.

Griffin Looking to Jump Serve Her Way Into Top Ten
It’s been two years since anyone cracked the top ten list for services aces, but it appears the list will have a new resident very shortly. Senior Sarah Griffin needs just 20 winners to catch Kristen Frye for tenth on the chart. Twenty aces shouldn’t be a problem for Griffin as her jump serve has produced nearly 32 per year, including a personal-best 49 last season that ranked second in the ACC.

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