September 3, 2016 - by
Gritty No. 16 Seminoles Battle Hard with No. 6 Minnesota
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – The Seminoles received 15 kills from Milica Kubura and 10 from Christina Ambrose, but it was the trio of Hannah Tapp (18 kills), Sarah Wilhite (18) and Alexis Hart (15) that made the difference as sixth-ranked Minnesota posted a 25-14, 26-24, 21-25 and 25-12 victory over No. 16 Florida State in the final day of action at the Puerto Rico Clasico on Saturday evening.
The combination of Kubura and Ambrose were joined up front by Katie Horton (nine kills), Melanie Keil (eight) and Mara Green (seven) as Florida State finished with 50 kills.
Green, who finished with a .417 attack percentage, and Kubura (.367 attack pct.) proved to be the most efficient offensive hitters for the Seminoles. While Brianne Burkert led the way with 27 assists, the duo of Cecilie Woie and Horton highlighted the back row with 16 and 11 digs, respectively. The Noles dropped to 3-1 with the setback.
Minnesota’s offensive attack, which accounted for 66 kills and a .320 attack percentage, was quarterbacked by setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson’s 54 assists. Defensively the Gophers, who improved to 3-1, were led by Dalianliz Rosado (16 digs) and Tapp, who contributed six assisted blocks.
A back-and-forth battle in the opening set reached a 10-all deadlock, following a kill by the Gophers’ Wilhite that placed Tapp in serve. Tapp helped Minnesota score the next 11 unanswered points, including six by unforced errors, before a miscue by Wilhite ended the run. Florida State closed out the set with kills from Kubura, Ambrose and Keil, but it was the Golden Gophers that took the victory.
The Seminoles carried over that momentum into the second set, establishing an 8-5 advantage following a kill by Green with Ambrose in serve. The lead remained three until a series of strikes by Wilhite and Tapp eventually knotted the game at 11-11. Minnesota again strung together a series of points, this time with Wilhite in serve, as it forged ahead 15-11.
Florida State responded to the challenge, forcing three attack errors to go along with a kill by Keil as the game reached a 16-all deadlock. Minnesota pushed back in front, leading by as many as three over the next 16 points, before the set reached a 24-24 tie. A series of kills by Wilhite and Hart proved to be the difference in the two-point win.
Facing a 0-2 deficit in the match and a four-point deficit on six occasions inside the first 26 points of the third set, Florida State used kills by Burkert and Kubura to bring the set to a 16-16 deadlock.
Kubura came through with four kills over the next eight points, giving the Seminoles a 22-18 advantage late in the set. That margin would remain intact down the stretch, due in large part to two kills by Ambrose and one from Kubura as FSU posted the four-point win.
The Florida State combination of Horton, Green and Kubura brought the fourth set to a six-all tie early in the frame. Consecutive kills by Wilhite, Tapp and Hart sparked a Minnesota offense that eventually assumed an 18-9 advantage. Kills by Green and Horton were not enough to counter a solid finish by the Golden Gophers who completed the win in the fourth.
FSU will play its home opener next week on Sept. 8 when it squares off against Baylor as part of the Home2 Suites by Hilton-Tallahassee Seminole Tournament. The Seminoles follow that with a series of matches against Florida A&M (1 p.m.) and Arkansas-Little Rock (7 p.m.) on Sept. 9.
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