LOUISVILLE, KY. – The trio of Milica Kubura (14 kills, five assisted blocks), Christina Ambrose (12 kills, 10 digs) and Katie Horton (20 digs, 10 kills) helped 11th-ranked Florida State extend its season-long winning streak to six as the Seminoles downed Louisville by scores of 23-25, 25-18, 29-27 and 25-10 in Friday night Atlantic Coast Conference volleyball action.
Kubura finished the match with a .345 hitting percentage as she recorded her 11th double-digit kill performance of the season on 29 swings. Ambrose was also highly efficient for the Seminoles (17-3, 10-1 ACC), finishing with a .333 hitting percentage, as she posted the first double-double of her collegiate career.
Horton, who tied her career-high in digs (20), notched her 18th career double-double and second in as many matches as she added 10 kills. Cecilie Woie also topped double figures in digs (13) as the back row trio, joined by Ambrose, gave the Seminoles a 70-59 edge in digs over Louisville.
Senior Melanie Keil recorded a match-high eight blocks (seven assisted) as she anchored a Florida State defensive attack that finished with a 23-12 edge in total blocks. Joining her among lead front row defenders were Kubura and Natasha Calkins (four assisted blocks). It is the fifth straight match that Calkins has had at least four assisted blocks for the Seminoles, dating back to a five-block outing against Virginia Tech on Oct. 14.
The combination of two kills by Ambrose and back-to-back assisted blocks from duo of Calkins and Keil gave Florida State an 8-4 edge in the fourth set, forcing Louisville to call its first timeout. The Seminole offense continued to click on all cylinders by recording nine kills in the next 12 points, including three from Kubura and two each by Green and Horton, as FSU took a commanding 20-8 lead.
Louisville eventually cracked double figures, following a service ace by Gabbie Wiley, but it was kills by Horton and Keil along with a service ace from Bozena Culo that helped the Noles triumph. The victory over the Cardinals marks just the third time in the series history and first since the 1990 campaign that the Noles have completed a season sweep of Louisville.
“It was the good, the bad and the ugly win tonight,” said head coach Chris Poole. “Fortunately we kept working hard all night and finished on a high note. We knew Louisville would bring their best and make us play hard. I’m proud of the way we stepped up in the fourth set.”
Keil made her presence felt in the opening stages of the third set with three blocks to help Florida State jump out to a 9-4 lead. Louisville retaliated behind the service game of Molly Sauer, who used kills from Tess Clark and Melanie McHenry to pull even at nine for the first of nine ties that resulted in an 18-18 contest.
A kill by Horton along with a Cardinal attack error provided Florida State with a 20-18 edge, but Louisville took advantage of two unforced errors to quickly even the set at 20. With Hailey Luke serving set point, Louisville answered with a kill by Morgan Miller to force a 24-all tie. Three ties and two Cardinal set points later, FSU grabbed a 28-27 advantage on an assisted block by Horton and Mara Green. Horton followed by driving a kill through the Louisville defense to provide the two-point win.
Five service errors by the Cardinals along with two service aces by Keil allowed Florida State to grab a 9-7 advantage in the second set. A 7-3 run, highlighted by two kills from Ambrose and one each by Kubura and Calkins forced Louisville to burn a timeout trailing 15-10.
The breather didn’t detour Florida State, who received a service ace by Culo and a kill from Horton en route to a 19-14 advantage. Green drove a pair of kills past the Cardinals’ defense while Horton and Woie used their service games to force three Louisville errors as the Seminoles completed the seven-point victory.
The two teams battled throughout the early stages of the opening set, unable to establish more than a two-point advantage, as they endured nine ties before reaching a 12-all deadlock. Louisville broke that tie following a pair of Jasmine Bennett kills as it briefly assumed the 15-12 advantage.
Florida State responded with two kills by Kubura along with strikes from the duo of Keil and Ambrose as the first set reached a 17-17 tie. Kubura and Green penetrated the Cardinal defense for a series of kills as the Seminoles overcame three kills from Clark to assume a 23-22 lead deep in the set. However, Louisville recorded the final three points, including a kill and a block from Morgan Miller, to complete the two-point win.
Florida State turns its focus to a match with Notre Dame on Sunday at 1 p.m. The two teams, who enter the weekend tied for second place in the ACC, look to remain within one game of North Carolina as they battle for the league championship.
“We really need to come out ready to play on Sunday,” added Poole. “Notre Dame is a great team this year and we will need to play our best to win the match on the road.”
The Seminoles, who have posted sweeps in their last six meetings against Notre Dame, have won the last seven consecutive matches in the series. The match is being featured on ACC Network Extra with commentary from Derek Georgino and Madeline Keller.
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