September 17, 2004 - by
FSU Volleyball Opens 2004 Florida State Classic Tonight At 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 17, 2004

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Friday, September 17th

5:00 PM Winthrop vs. Troy

7:30 PM Florida State vs. George Mason

Saturday, September 18th

10:00 AM George Mason vs. Troy

12:30 PM Florida State vs. Troy

3:00 PM George Mason vs. Winthrop

Sunday, September 20th

1:00 PM Florida State vs. Winthrop

Florida State (5-2, 0-0 ACC)

The Seminoles volleyball team will continue its season by playing host to the Florida State Classic at Tully Gym on Friday – Sunday. The tournament will be the final preparation before conference action gets underway next week. The Seminoles (5-2) are riding a two-match skid and plan to get back to their winning ways against George Mason, Troy State, and Winthrop this weekend. In its last outing, FSU dropped a match against No. 4 Florida, 3-1. Aisha Carr paced the Seminoles with seven kills on 14 swings (.286 hitting percentage) and added three digs and six blocks (2-4). Kristen Rust notched Florida State’s only double-double performance of the night with 12 kills and 11 digs. Despite not putting up big numbers on paper, freshman Summer Weissing provided the much needed emotional support on the court and was credited with 11 digs.

Scouting the Opponents

George Mason enters tonight’s match with a 2-1 overall record after taking home a runner-up finish on Sept. 11 at the 2004 Georgetown Classic. The Patriots defeated Wright State, 3-1, to advance to the championship match before falling to Georgetown, 3-1. Jessica Umansky and Niki Bernardes were named to the all-tournament team. Meanwhile, Troy State comes to Tallahassee owning a 3-5 overall record and finished second in the Birmingham-Southern Volleyball Challenge last week after being swept by the host team in the tournament finale. The Trojans were led by freshman Jean McCarthy. The final participant is Winthrop, who brings the top record into this weekend at 9-1 on the season. The Eagles equaled a school record for consecutive victories during their last match Tuesday. Mary Hock averages 4.56 kills per game.

The Series

Florida State vs. George Mason

FSU lost the only meeting between the two squads in 1995.

Florida State vs. Troy State

The Semioles lead the all-time record 2-0. The two teams last met in 1996.

Florida State vs. Winthrop

The Seminoles are 2-0 against the Eagles all-time. Their last meeting was in 1980.

Team Tri-Captains

This year’s team captains include seniors Aisha Carr, Renee HIll, and Amanda Santos.

Team News N’ Notes

•No. 4 Florida was the first ranked team the Seminoles faced this year. Michigan earned points in the latest AVCA poll after defeating FSU Sept. 11.

•At 5-2, the Seminoles are off to their best start in the Todd Kress era.

•Florida State finished first at the FSU Invitational on Sept. 3-4. If the Seminoles win the weekend’s tournament, it will mark the first time since 1998 the Seminoles have captured two preconference tournaments. The 1998 team finished the season as the ACC Champions and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

•In the last six seasons, Florida State is 10-8 overall in the three matches leading up the conference opener.

•Common opponents: Winthrop defeated Clemson, 3-2, on Sept. 4.

All Amanda, All The Time

Senior middle blocker Amanda Santos made a name for herself as a dominant blocker for the Seminoles in 2003. This year she is making a name for herself as one of the top all-around players in the league. Against Oakland in the first match of the Michigan/Pepsi Challenge, she produced her third-straight game with a hitting percentage of over .600. Santos lit up the Golden Grizzlies for a .667 percentage with nine kills on 12 attempts. Santos continues to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference with her season rate of .533, and is second at 1.33 blocks per game.

Skower Brings All-Around Game To The Court

Standing in at 6-foot-1, sophomore Jessica Skower (Naples, Fla.) brings more to the court than your average setter. Not only is she producing 12.12 assists per game, which ranks her fourth in the league, she has bolstered both the FSU offense and defense. Skower currently ranks third on the team with an average of 0.75 blocks per game, while producing one kill per game (1.00) and a .377 hitting percentage. She also knows how to score points off the serve as she leads the team with 11 service aces, rating her sixth in the ACC.

Carr Gets Offense Going In Michigan

When the big points are on the line, junior Kristen Rust (Cincinnati, Ohio) is typically around the ball. The left side leads FSU, and she is one of five players with at least 2.0 kills per game, with her 3.11 kills per game. Rust is also providing valuable defense, ranking fourth on the squad at 1.74 digs per game.

Summer Forecast Calls For Improving Conditions

Last season head coach Todd Kress picked his libero based on who was playing the best at the time, but now he may have found a permanent starter. Freshman Summer Weissing (Boca Raton, Fla.) has stepped in to fill the role. The rookie has started the first seven games of her collegiate career and leads the team at 3.17 digs per game

Sister Act

Florida State head coach Todd Kress likes the output that he got from Amanda Santos so much last season that he signed her older sister Andreza Santos (Minas Gerais, Brazil) to a letter of intent for this year. Coming off a knee injury she sustained last year while playing at the College of Southern Idaho, the older Santos made her Florida State debut against Michigan on Saturday, Sept. 11. The 6-foot-1 left side produced five kills on 13 attempts in two games.

Sophomore Duo Bolsters Attack

There’s an old adage that the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores and two Seminoles have benefited from a year of playing time. Left side Nikki Anthony (Pickens, S.C) is fifth on the team at 1.85 kills per game. Opposite Cassie McLaughlin has, at times, one of the best all-around games on the team. Currently she ranks second on the team with 2.60 digs per game and eight service aces while adding 1.90 kills per game.

Hill Provides Leadership On And Off The Court

Naturally leaders are few and fair between, but Todd Kress has one in senior co-captain Renee Hill (Spring, Texas). A jack-of-all-trades on the court, Hill can play any number of positions, including left side, opposite and even fill in as a backup setter if called upon. This season she is producing 1.17 kills per game, while adding 1.96 digs per game — ranking her third on the squad — while adding a pair of service aces. Hill’s contributions are even bigger, considering that she is coming off surgery to repair a torn meniscus in her left knee.

The Coach

Todd Kress, one of the most talented young coaches in the nation, enters his third season as head coach of the Florida State volleyball program. Kress was hired to coach the Seminoles on February 14, 2002. Prior to his arrival in Tallahassee, Kress spent seven years coaching at Fairfield University and Northern Illinois University, where he led three teams to the NCAA Tournament and compiled a record of 152-75.

In 2003, FSU compiled a record of 16-17 after the Seminoles battled injuries and were faced with many newcomers to the roster. Despite the inexperience, Florida State advanced to the second round of the ACC Tournament and faced a Top 5 Georgia Tech program. The Seminoles finished fourth in the ACC in blocks while junior transfer Amanda Santos ranked third in the conference averaging 1.32 blocks per game. Freshman Cassie McLaughlin earned ACC and East Region Rookie of the Year Honors after leading the Seminoles, and placing fourth in the ACC, with 44 service aces. McLaughlin also led the team with 360 kills and 875 total attacks.
During his first season in 2002, with the experience of four seniors, Kress led the Seminoles to an overall record of 21-13, an ACC record of 10-6, a trip to the ACC Tournament Championship match and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. This marked the first time since 1998 that a Florida State team advanced to the national tournament.

Before arriving to Florida State, Kress spent three years at Northern Illinois, where he led the Huskies to a 58-30 record. In his last season at Northern Illinois, Kress guided the Huskies to an overall record of 24-6, a 15-3 regular season record in the Mid-American Conference, the MAC tournament championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. In the 2001 season, Kress’ Huskies won 21 of their final 23 matches and stormed through the MAC Tournament as they won all three matches by a score of 3-0. At the completion of the season, Kress was named the 2001 MAC Coach of the Year.

In 1995, Kress began his collegiate head-coaching career when he accepted the position at Fairfield. Before Kress’ arrival at Fairfield, the Stags had not posted a winning season in seven years. During his four-year stint at the helm of the program, Kress boasted a record of 94-45 and became the school’s winningest volleyball coach. In his final two years, he guided his team to a 60-12 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances. In his final season at Fairfield in 1998, Kress led his team to the school’s first ever national ranking, a 35-2 record, which included a 27-game winning streak, a 14-0 mark at home and an impressive victory over national powerhouse Notre Dame. The Stags won their third straight regular-season MAAC championship and second consecutive tournament championship. With a winning percentage of 94.6, Fairfield was ranked third nationally behind national champion Long Beach State and national runner-up Penn State. Following the season, Kress was named AVCA/District II Coach of the Year and MAAC Coach of the Year.

It was at Cincinnati that Kress began his coaching career. While completing his undergraduate education, he was a four-year starter for the Bearcats’ club squad and served as head coach for two Junior Olympic programs and as an assistant for the Seton High School junior varsity.
After earning an Associate of Arts degree in Communications from Edison State College in Ohio in June of 1988, Kress earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in broadcasting from Cincinnati in June of 1992.

Kress, a native of Sidney, Ohio, married the former Dani (DON-ee) Peterson in May of 1998. Also very passionate about volleyball, Dani was an assistant coach to Kress at Northern Illinois during the 2000-2001 season. The couple has two sons, Trevor (3) and Trajan. Trajan was born on November 25, 2003.

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