Oct. 15, 2004
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Over a thousand fans packed Tully Gymnasium Friday night as they watched an emotionally charged Florida State volleyball team (11-7, 3-4 ACC) defeat second-place North Carolina (11-9, 6-2 ACC), 3-1, in what resulted in one of the most exciting showdowns in college volleyball this season.
In the end, Seminoles head coach Todd Kress earned career win No. 200, junior Kristen Rust (Cincinnati, Ohio / McAuley HS) wobbled off the court after recording a career-best 29 kills and 20 digs, and sophomore Cassie McLaughlin (Cary, Ill. / Cary-Grove HS) showed late-game courage after tallying seven decisive kills in game four to clinch the victory.
“I wasn’t worried at all about the 200 wins because that is a small milestone,” said an ecstatic Kress. “What’s more important is how we won. We showed so much heart and character in that fourth game despite being down eight or nine points during one stretch. We fought and clawed back by playing clean, fundamental volleyball and that is why this victory meant so much. I couldn’t have scripted a better 200th career win. We simply had fun out there…these kids are tremendous and I think they are finally realizing their potential.”
While the coaching milestone set the underlying emotion for the night, the real story belonged to the heroics of Rust who set a new personal-best and team season-high record with 29 kills. Incredibly, despite suffering from excruciating shin pains, she totaled her sixth double-double performance of the season by adding 20 digs to the kills for a new team and personal-best 32.0 points.
“It was awesome out there on the court tonight,” said Rust, “and I wanted to keep pushing hard because I knew how bad we wanted to win this match. In the back of our minds we knew that Coach [Kress] might get his milestone, so that gave us the momentum to keep fighting.”
After pulling ahead early in game one, the Tar Heels never managed to get in the contest and the Seminoles captured a 30-27 victory with relative ease. As normal, Florida State found itself down early in game two, 7-12, before staging a comeback. With the score 19-14, the Seminoles scored five straight points that tied the game up. FSU never looked back from that point on and registered a 30-25 win. The third battle remained neck-in-neck deep into the game until the contest tied up at 20-all. From here, Carolina rallied and took the lead for good as it defeated FSU, 30-27.
The fourth contest was the most intense of them all, as the Seminoles and Tar Heels fought for the win. North Carolina led by as much as five late (26-21), but the Seminoles would not falter and stormed back for a dramatic comeback that tied the score up at 26-26, 27-27, and 28-28. A kill by Aisha Carr (Dallas, Texas / Skyline HS) followed by a Nikki Anthony (Pickens, S.C. / Pickens HS) slam sealed the win and Florida State won in thrilling fashion, 30-28.
Three players recorded 10-or-more kills including Rust, Carr and Amanda Santos (Minas Gerais, Brazil / College of Southern Idaho). Carr had 12 kills on 26 swings for a .346 mark, while adding three blocks (1-2). Meanwhile, Santos pitched in 11 kills on 23 attacks for a .304 clip and she added seven digs and four blocks (1-3). Anthony totaled nine kills and Kress substituted in a fresh McLaughlin during game four as she instantly contributed seven kills and provided a much-need spark for the home team.
The Seminoles set a new team season-high with 87 digs earned in the match that included four players with double-digit digs. Other than Rust, freshman Summer Weissing (Boca Raton, Fla. / Olympic Heights HS) had a new career-high 23 digs, and sophomore Sarah Griffin (Hereford, Texas / Hereford HS) and senior Renee Hill (Spring, Texas / Iowa) had 14 each, respectively.
The play of Weissing tonight was truly spectacular as she not only reached for 23 hard-nosed digs, but she also contributed four service aces during crucial periods of the match to lead both teams in serving.
Sophomore setter Jessica Skower (Naples, Fla. / Naples HS) established a new career high with 66 set assists.
The Seminoles hit .264 in the match and held the Tar Heels to a .205 mark.
FSU will be back in action on Sunday at Tully Gym for a 1:00 p.m. match versus NC State.