Aug 30, 2013
LONG BEACH, Calif. (seminoles.com) – The 18th-ranked Florida State indoor volleyball team suffered a season-opening 3-0 (18-25, 23-25, 23-25) loss at the hands of Illinois on Friday afternoon at the Long Beach State Mizuno Invitational at Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif.
The Seminoles (0-1) were done in by the enormous hitting of Illinois outside hitter Jocelynn Birks, who recorded 22 kills, a .333 hitting percentage and two service aces in just three sets of action. The Illini (1-0) were able to compile a .282 hitting percentage, a quality mark against one of the nation’s best blocking units over the last four seasons.
Illinois presented a tough challenge for Florida State right in the opening set, expanding an 18-17 lead to a 25-18 win in the first frame after winning seven of the final eight points. Junior outside hitter Liz McMahon finished with five kills, one block and a late service ace in the frame. Florida State received some quality serving from senior Olivera Medic, as she recorded consecutive service aces midway through the set to keep things close. The Illini’s offensive execution was superior in the first frame as it totaled 17 kills compared to Florida State’s six.
Both teams tussled hard in the second set, with senior Elise Walch sparking the Seminole offense with six kills in the frame. However, too much top-notch hitting from Birks foiled Florida State’s defensive plan as she recorded nine kills in the second set and 16 overall heading into the intermission.
Every time Illinois tried to break free in the second set, Florida State clawed back and tied it at 19-19 on a kill by Medic. Both teams went back and forth as Elise Walch kept the Seminoles in it with responding kills to tie the set at 21-21. A two-point run by the Illini off a kill from Birks and a setting error by Florida State gave it a 23-21 lead, and a kill by Maddie Mayers ended the frame to put the Seminoles in a 2-0 hole.
Another competitive set occurred in the third, but Illinois wound up with the sweep after Birks ended the match with a kill. Florida State had the chance to take control of the set after leading 14-9 on a ball-handling error from the Illini, but the opposition went on a 5-0 run punctuated by a kill from McMahon. Trailing 21-20 with both teams trading points, redshirt freshman Sarah Burrington and Elise Walch combined on a block to create yet another tie in the set at 21-21.
As was the case in the previous sets, whichever team could go on a late run had the upper edge. Tied at 21 in the third, Illinois used a kill and a block by Maddie Mayers to create match point at 24-21. Nicole Walch then produced consecutive kills, but Birks’ match-ending kill highlighted a superb performance from the Illini.
Seminole libero Katie Mosher finished the match with 12 digs, giving her 1,111 for her career to make her just the seventh student-athlete in school history with over 1,100 career digs.
Florida State looks for a Top 25 win this evening when it faces No. 17 Kentucky at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT at the Walter Pyramid.
Follow Florida State indoor volleyball on Seminoles.com as well as on the team’s official Twitter (@FSU_Volleyball) and Facebook pages (Facebook.com/FSUVolleyball).
Expanded recap to follow Kentucky match