LOUISVILLE, Ky. – (Seminoles.com) – The fourth-ranked Florida State (15-0, 5-0) indoor volleyball team remains undefeated after picking up a 3-1(25-21, 24-26, 25-18, 25-22) win over Louisville (10-7, 2-3) at the KFC Yum! Center on Friday.
“Any time you go on the road, you’re going to get the opponent’s best shot,” FSU head coach Chris Poole said. “Louisville is a very aggressive defensive team and they came out with a game plan. Louisville has a great team and they’re very competitive and we knew this would be a dangerous place to play and it’s good to get out of here with a win.”
Junior outside hitter Nicole Walch led the attack, delivering 22 kills and 12 digs while sophomore outside hitter Katie Horton put up her fourth double-double on the year with 13 kills and 12 digs.
“We just kept fighting for every point,” Walch said. “We have so many players that can step and tonight I just did my best to finish those tough points. We know that we have a target on our backs and everyone is going to give us their best shot and it feels great to go home with a win.”
The Seminoles got major production from their middle blockers with redshirt sophomore Sarah Burrington tallying 12 kills hitting for .429 percent while junior Kiara Wright tied her career high for kills with 11 on top of hitting .450 percent.
“I’m really glad to see Sarah and Kiara step up for us,” Poole said. “They played well in the middle and we were inconsistent in other places and we’re going to continue to work to get better.”
On the block, FSU registered 11 total with Burrington contributing six assists and Wright putting up four. Redshirt freshman right side hitter Milica Kubura teamed up for four while junior Karlie Hauer entered the match in the second set and produced three. Junior Mercedes Vaughn was credited with one solo stop and a pair of assists.
Senior setter Sarah Wickstrom put up a double-double with 32 assists and 17 digs, while sophomore setter Hailey Luke amassed 24 assists.
Redshirt senior libero Katie Mosher was under 22 digs.
In the first, Louisville answered a few 3-0 surges early in the set, however the Seminoles broke it open late with a 5-0 run to grab set point up 24-18. Louisville put the pressure on and forced FSU to make mistakes grabbing the next three points causing Poole to call timeout.
Out of the break, Florida State battled through the rally and set up Walch for the kill from the left side, lifting the Seminoles to the 25-21 victory and 1-0 advantage.
Louisville put together a 5-0 stretch in the second to take the early lead 9-4, forcing Poole to burn a timeout. The Seminoles trailed between three and four points for most of the set before pulling within two down 15-17 before Louisville to called timeout.
After the break, the Cardinals went back up by four after a kill and an error.
Once again, the Seminoles pulled to within a pair, but mistakes extended the Cardinal lead to four.
Burrington delivered a desperate kill for the side out before Walch put one down, causing Louisville to call timeout up 21-19. After the break, FSU went back to Walch for the strike before an attacking error from the Cardinals knotted the set 21-21.
The Seminoles grabbed their first lead of the set from the hand of Walch but the Cardinals ended the 5-0 stretch tying it 22-22. FSU responded with points from Burrington and Walch to take set point.
After a service error, the Cardinals fended off another set point with a kill tying it 24-24. Louisville would take the next two points and the second set 26-24, for the 1-1 match tie.
“We let that set slip away from us,” Poole said. “That’s the dangerous thing about what we’re doing now, we’re not closing out sets and it’s our biggest weakness and we’re working on it every day.”
The Seminoles came out on fire in the third, jumping out to a 6-1 lead. Wickstrom sparked a 6-0 barrage on serve to go up big 16-6. Florida State kept its distance and closed out the third, 25-18 to move ahead 2-1.
Florida State jumped out the lead in the fourth and held it by three until Louisville sparked a 6-1 charge to pull ahead 14-12 forcing Poole to call timeout.
The two teams sided out following the break before FSU took the edge 17-16. But, Louisville answered with a 4-2 rally to pull ahead 20-18 causing Poole to burn his final timeout.
FSU pulled together a pair of points to tie 20-20 before both squads earned the side out for another tie. A net violation on Louisville gave FSU the 22-21 advantage, but the Cardinals answered with a kill.
Florida State pulled ahead 23-22 after Wright slammed a kill off the block before setting up match point following a block by Vaughn and Wright.
The Cardinals called timeout but Walch finished off the long rally and put away the match with a kill to the right corner, 25-23.
“We didn’t play as well as we wanted to,” Poole said. “But I admire the character of this team. They just continue to fight so hard even when they aren’t playing as well as they want to. We’re still doing a lot of things right but there are some little things that we’re not, but we’re happy to be going home with a win.”
FSU returns home for a match on Sunday for the annual “Paint it Pink” event against NC State at 1 p.m. The match will be streamed on ESPN3.
Fans can donate $10 to the Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Sharon Ewing Walker Breast Health Center and receive a t-shirt. Prizes will also be available for silent auction.
“It’s a great match for the awareness that it brings,” Poole said. “It’s a fun match for the girls and it’s great to get the fans to come in and the athletic department likes to be a part of it, I personally like to be a part of it and our team appreciates that.”