Oct. 5, 2013
CLEMSON, S.C. (seminoles.com) – Falling behind in a 2-0 hole through the first two sets, the No. 18 Florida State indoor volleyball team pulled off a come-from-behind victory at Clemson on Saturday evening, winning 3-2 (19-25, 17-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-8) at Jervey Gymnasium.
On the verge of suffering their first three-set loss in the Atlantic Coast Conference since 2010, the Seminoles (10-5, 3-1) were sparked by their outside hitters Nicole Walch and Leah Mikesky in the final three sets while getting some ferocious defense from their middle blockers. Walch hammered 22 kills on Saturday night, her fourth match this season with 20 or more kills. Over the final two frames, Walch dominated with 13 kills and just two hitting errors.
Redshirt freshman Leah Mikesky was also solid on the left side, totaling 16 kills and a .286 hitting percentage. The Schulenburg, Texas, native served as a viable option in the midst of Florida State’s comeback, with 14 of her kills come over the final three sets. Both Walch and Mikesky recorded double-doubles in the match.
“Both our left sides stepped up big for us in the last three sets,” head coach Chris Poole said following his 690th career win. “We were out of sync earlier in the match trying to adjust to our lineup with Katie (Mosher), but our players showed a lot of character. Leah was a difference maker because she had to step up big for us to have a chance to win.”
Florida State finishes its exhausting nine-match road trip with a 6-3 record, highlighted by a win over then-No. 7 Michigan. The match against the Wolverines was the other time this season the `Noles came back from two sets down.
Redshirt freshman Sarah Burrington, who provided a big lift with her offense on Friday night, got things done defensively against Clemson. The Ruskin, Fla., native compiled a season-best nine blocks on Saturday evening. Fellow middle blocker Ashley Neff added seven kills and six blocks.
FSU recorded 16 blocks, marking a season high. Clemson also was active defensively, totaling 15.5.
Junior setter Sarah Wickstrom also had a double-double for the Seminoles, adding 15 digs and 27 assists. Several long rallies in the match allowed Florida State to record a season-high 84 digs.
In the fifth set, a big block by Neff and Nicole Walch gave FSU a 5-3 advantage that it would not relinquish. An Elise Walch block extended the Seminole lead to 9-5, and Mikesky helped FSU by recording a kill in two of the team’s next three points. Burrington and Mara Green combined on a block that set up match point at 14-8, and Nicole Walch threw down a kill to end the match and complete the comeback.
Versatile senior Olivera Medic provided an admirable performance, making just her second career start at libero for Florida State. With usual starter Katie Mosher out of the match, Medic produced 20 digs and six assists and improved as the match progressed, adding a stable line of defense in the back row. Medic also started at libero in FSU’s third match last season against Cincinnati.
The Seminoles started slow in the opening frame but were able to knot the set at 14-14 on a service ace. However, FSU was unable to take a lead from there as Clemson won three consecutive points to take a 17-14 lead, then used another three-point run late to create set point at 24-18. Following a kill by Nicole Walch, Clemson’s Leah Perri finished the set with a kill to put the Tigers (7-8, 1-3) ahead 1-0 overall.
Florida State got off to a better beginning in the second set, but allowed the Tigers to go on a momentum-swinging 9-0 run to turn a 10-8 lead to a 17-10 deficit. Clemson held control of the set the remaining way, using an attack error by the `Noles to win the second frame and go up 2-0 into the intermission.
Luckily for the `Noles, their outside hitting took over in the third and fourth sets to set up the final frame. FSU improves to 3-0 in five-set matches this season, and now leads Clemson in the all-time series 29-20.
Florida State returns to Tallahassee for its first home matches in just over a month. FSU takes on Maryland on Friday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m., then faces Pitt in the annual “Paint it Pink” match on Sunday, Oct. 13, at 2 p.m. on Fox Sports Florida.
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).