September 7, 2006 - by
FSU Volleyball Takes Undefeated Record to Gamecock Invitational

Sept. 7, 2006

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Florida State Volleyball At Gamecock Invitational • September 8-9
Volleyball Competition Facility • Columbia, S.C.

Vs. #10 Southern California GameTracker
Friday, Sept. 8 • 12 p.m.

Vs. St. John’s GameTracker
Friday, Sept. 8 • 5:30 p.m.

At South Carolina GameTracker
Saturday, Sept. 9 • 1:30 p.m.
South Carolina Radio Broadcast

Florida State (5-0, 0-0 ACC)
Home: 3-0
Away: 1-0
Neutral: 1-0
ACC: 0-0

#10 Southern California (6-0)
Home: 3-0
Away: 1-0
Neutral: 2-0

St. John’s (7-0)
Home: 0-0
Away: 2-0
Neutral: 4-0

South Carolina (7-1) 
Home: 0-0 
Away: 1-1 
Neutral: 6-0

Dig, Set, Spike (What You Need To Know):
• By taking all three matches over the weekend to claim the FSU Invitational title, this year’s Florida State squad equaled its best start under head coach Todd Kress as the Seminoles’ 5-0 mark matches the one by his 2004 edition that ended the year 18-11.

• Florida State is the top hitting team in the country with a .404 team-high percentage. FSU also ranks third at 3.53 aces per game and 24th with 16.47 kills per game.

• Senior middle blocker Sarah Griffin (Hereford, Texas) was named Tournament MVP after collecting 33 kills and a .519 hitting percentage. In the first two matches against Stetson and South Alabama, she hit a career-best .529.

• Junior libero Summer Weissing (Boca Raton, Fla.) moved into 10th place on the school’s career digs list over the weekend. Her career total stands at 971, just 14 back of ninth-place Joan Morris.

• FSU takes on No. 10 Southern California on Friday at 12 p.m. to start the South Carolina Tournament. FSU’s last win over a ranked team was a 3-0 defeat of No. 12 North Carolina on November 23, 2002, during the ACC Tournament. FSU is 2-11 against ranked opponents under Todd Kress.

FSU Volleyball Faces Toughest Test Of The Season At South Carolina
Sitting atop the ACC standings with a perfect 5-0 record, the Florida State volleyball team takes its unblemished record into its toughest challenge of the season. The Seminoles travel to South Carolina this weekend for the Gamecock Invitational. Florida State opens with No. 10 Southern California on Friday (Sept. 8) at 12 p.m. followed by St. John’s at 5:30 p.m. Florida State wraps up the tournament the following day with a 1:30 p.m. contest against the host Gamecocks.

Florida State Matches Best Start Under Kress With 5-0 Record
Despite having the youngest team he’s ever had at Florida State, fifth year head coach Todd Kress has the Seminoles off to their best start under his watch. By sweeping this weekend’s FSU Invitational, Florida State is 5-0 for the second time in the last three years, equaling the mark of the 2004 squad. That team ended with an 18-11 mark, 9-7 in the ACC. Six times — with five of those six seasons coming in the last 10 years — FSU has started the year at 5-0 or better and in those years the Seminoles averaged 24 victories.

Were Number One!
The first NCAA statistical rankings came out on September 6 with the Seminoles topping the list as the best hitting team in the country. Florida State’s hitting percentage of .404 is 10 points higher than second-place Ohio State. The Seminoles are also third in the country at 3.53 aces per game and check in at No. 24 with 16.47 kills per game. Perhaps the most important ranking is the Seminoles’ winning percentage as their 5-0 start places them in a tie for first with 27 other teams.

Florida State Players Crack National Rankings As Well
Helping FSU to its spot in the national rankings are several outstanding individual performances. Topping the list is outside hitter Jessica Skower (Naples, Fla.) who sits fifth in the country with her .531 hitting percentage. Fellow outside Makini Thompson (Quincy, Mass.) also cracked the hitting charts in 27th at .458 percent. A pair of Seminoles are on the aces per game ranking with rookie Malorie Wessel (West Chester, Ohio) 23rd with 0.77 aces and sophomore Alex Plummer (Woodbury, Mass.) is four spots back at 0.75.

Seminoles Try To Break Drought Against Ranked Teams
The Seminoles will try to snap their nine-game losing streak to ranked teams that dates back to 2002 when they take on No. 10 Southern California on Friday at 1:30 p.m. During FSU’s first year under Todd Kress, it took down North Carolina twice when the Tar Heels were ranked in the top 25. The first was an epic five-set battle in Tallahassee on October 27, 2002 when North Carolina was ranked No. 11. Then Florida State advanced to the ACC Tournament finals with a 3-0 sweep of No. 12 UNC on November 23. Under Kress, Florida State is 2-11 against ranked teams and 0-7 versus the top 10.

Scouting USC Part I: The Women of Troy
One of the best programs in the country, No. 10 Southern California will certainly be the toughest test for Florida State so far this season. The Women of Troy are coming off a sweep of the LMU/USC Classic where they beat No. 11 Tennessee and No. 24 Utah in four games. Outside hitter Asia Kaczor is hitting .343 with 4.65 kills per game, while libero Debora Seilhamer is ninth in the NCAA with 6.70 digs per game.

Scouting St. John’s
The Redstorm have had just as good a beginning as Florida State has as they’ve gotten out to a 7-0 start. St. John’s has had an outstanding offensive game, as is evidence with its 17.1 kills per game, which ranks SJU seventh nationally. The Redstorm are also seventh with their .326 hitting percentage. Leading the offensive charge for St. John’s has been middle blocker Caitlin Rimgaila who rates eighth in the nation with a .509 hitting percentage.

Scouting USC Part II: The Gamecocks
After the battle for USC supremacy Friday night, the Seminoles will take on the host Gamecocks Saturday afternoon in a rematch of last year’s FSU Invitational. The Seminoles were without the services of All-American Andreza Santos last time after she sustained an injury in the first match of the year. The two teams battled for over 2:30 hours before South Carolina prevailed 3-1 (21-30, 30-22, 17-30, 23-30). FSU’s last win over the Gamecocks was a 3-0 sweep on Oct. 6, 1990 when both teams were still in the Metro Conference. USC outside hitter Shonda Cole has been on a tear offensively, averaging 5.89 kills per game to rank fourth nationally.

Home Team Wins FSU Invitational
Returning home after a pair of wins on the road, the host Seminoles swept all three matches in the FSU Invitational to take the tournament title. Florida State hit better than .400 in all three contests and held its opponents to a negative percentage in two of the three matches with only Eastern Illinois (.083) getting into the black. The Panthers were also the only team to score 20 or more points in more than one game. FSU had double-digit service aces in all three contests. During the three matches, Florida State averaged 16.56 kills per game with a .449 hitting percentage.

Outstanding Weekend Earns Griffin Tournament MVP Honors
Three matches with double-digit kills as well as three-straight contests with a hitting percentage of .500 or better was more than enough to earn middle blocker Sarah Griffin (Hereford, Texas) FSU Invitational MVP honors. The 5-foot-11 senior set a new career with a .529 attacking rate against both Stetson and South Alabama. Her best all-around match came against Stetson in the tournament opener as she had 10 kill sand hit .529 to go along with four aces, seven digs and 16.5 points. During the three matches she had five aces, giving her 103 for her career and moving her to within 12 of tying Kristen Frye for 10th in school history. Surprisingly, this was the first time in Griffin’s career that she was named to an all-tournament team, let alone tournament MVP.

Skower and Wessel Join Griffin On All-Tournament Team
Given the success FSU had during its own tournament, any number of players could have been named to the all-tournament team, but outside hitters Jessica Skower and Malorie Wessel stood out above the rest as they joined Sarah Griffin on the all-tournament team. The senior Skower led the tournament with a hitting rate of .647 while Wessel was tops at 3.88 kills per game. Wessel is the first rookie since 2004 to earn all-tournament honors, following Summer Weissing who also got the nod at the FSU Invitational.

Weissing Breaks Into Career Digs List
Even though she’s played just over two seasons, libero Summer Weissing (Boca Raton, Fla.) is already making history. With 11 digs against South Alabama in the FSU Invitational, the junior moved past Alex Sevillano for tenth place on the career digs list. She added a season-best 16 digs versus Eastern Illinois in Saturday’s second match to up her career total to 972. Weissing needs 13 more digs to move past Joan Morris for ninth and given her team-leading average of 3.93 digs per game she is on pace to hop over Morris against St. John’s on Friday.

Three Is All You Need
Florida State has been sending fans home happy and early this season as all five of its victories have been three-game affairs, marking the first time in school history that FSU has won its first five matches by a score of 3-0. The 2000 and 1983 squads started the year with four-straight sweeps before having to go five sets to beat a pair of SEC schools — Alabama (2000) and LSU (1983). In 2005, FSU only had six sweeps and just four lasted less than 1:30 hours, while all five this year have ended in under that time.

News and Notes:
Florida State’s .511 hitting percentage against Stetson is the highest during Todd Kress’ five years at FSU and the Seminoles’ best since hitting .537 against Georgia Southern on September 10, 1997 … Makini Thompson set an FSU season-high with 17 kills and 18 points against Stetson … The Seminoles have had four matches with 10 or more aces this season, compared to just five in all of 2005 … During Kress’ first year of 2002, Florida State beat Pac-10 opponent Oregon, as well as LSU from the SEC … USC assistant Cookie Stevens was the head coach at Florida International when the Seminoles beat the Golden Panthers 3-2 in 2002 … Both of FSU’s wins over the Big East under Kress have come in the last three years with triumphs over Miami (2003) and South Florida (2005) … Florida State beat South Carolina to claim the 1983 and 1986 Metro Conference Tournament championships.

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