Nov. 6, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The showdown between the Atlantic Coast Conference’s two best volleyball teams certainly lived up to its billing Friday night inside Tully Gymnasium.
And when the epic five-set match reached its end, Florida State and its capacity crowd had reason to celebrate as the first-place Seminoles earned a 3-2 win (22-25, 25-19, 25-13, 25-21, 15-11) over the second-place Blue Devils.
The win pushes the ‘Noles (22-2, 13-1 ACC) further ahead in the race for the conference crown. Duke (21-5, 11-3), which hadn’t lost in Tallahassee since way back in 2002, is now two games behind FSU in the conference standings.
“I am proud of the girls for the effort they put forth tonight,” FSU head coach Chris Poole said. “We can play better. We made a lot of critical mistakes but we found a way to win and that’s the most important thing. We now have to get ready for Wake Forest coming in on Sunday.”
After tying the match at 1-1, the Seminoles ran away with a 25-13 victory in the third set. The big win appeared as though it would propel the ‘Noles to a 3-1 triumph but Duke battled back to tie the game at two sets apiece.
Duke then won the fourth set to force a decisive fifth game. In that set, FSU jumped out to a 5-0 lead before the Blue Devils tied it at 11-11. A kill by Stephanie Neville pushed the score to 12-11 in FSU’s favor and then back-to-back blocks by Jordana Price put the game at match-point.
A Duke error then sealed the win for a Florida State team whose only two losses this year have occurred in close five-set ballgames.
So what was different about Friday night as opposed to previous losses to Florida and Georgia Tech?
“I think tonight didn’t end like those two matches because of the way we started that fifth set,” Poole said. “We built that five-point lead. Of course we let them get back into but we showed that same intensity and focus to close out the game.”
True freshman Fatma Yildirim helped spur the FSU victory with her career night. The Istanbul, Turkey native finished with new career highs in kills (15), hitting percentage (.519) and digs (21).
Her stellar statistics also marked her team-leading fifth double-double of the year.
Next up for the Seminoles is a 1 p.m. match on Sunday against Wake Forest. Following the game, there will be a free clinic for children ages five through eighth grade on the court.