Dec. 3, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State volleyball coach Chris Poole has been named the 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year and his star player, Brianna Barry, has been named the ACC’s Player of the Year, league officials announced Thursday.
For Poole, being named a conference coach of the year is nothing new. But receiving the honor as a coach in the ACC is. Poole came to Florida State in the summer of 2008 with eight coach of the year awards to his credit after stints at Arkansas Tech, Arkansas State and the University of Arkansas.
As a first-time ACC Coach of the Year recipient, Poole become’s the first Seminole to capture the award since Dr. Cecile Reynaud did so at the conclusion of the 2000 season. Dr. Reynaud also earned the honor in 1992 in what was the program’s second year as an ACC school.
“This is not an award that one person can win all alone,” Poole said. “I have been very blessed with great players who were highly motivated to succeed. I’ve had incredible assistants and Holly Watts and Gokhan Yilmaz both deserve part of this award. The academics staff, our sports information director, our training room and our managers that work with our program have made my job easier and continue to help the girls on and off the court.
“This administration showed tremendous faith in me 18 months ago and I am honored to be part of the Florida State University family.”
What Poole has done in his short time at FSU is nothing short of remarkable. The Seminoles hadn’t won more than 19 games in any of the five seasons prior to Poole’s arrival in Tallahassee but he won 21 ballgames in his first season last year and then led the ‘Noles to a 28-2 record this season and into the postseason for the first time since 2002.
“As a team, we quickly realized what an amazing teacher Coach Poole is when he first got here last year,” Barry said. “He has a calm and collected demeanor that helps all of us stay relaxed when we are playing. He is so smart and his knowledge of the game of volleyball has helped me and my teammates see a whole new side to the game. We love playing for him.”
Poole enters Saturday’s 5 p.m. match against Alabama A&M in the first round of the NCAA Championship on the heels of a season that saw FSU claim the ACC outright championship for the first time ever with a staggering 19-1 conference record. Against the Bulldogs at Tully Gymnasium, Poole will be gunning for his 600th career victory.
Barry becomes Florida State’s first-ever ACC Player of the Year honoree thanks to her uncanny ability to seemingly score at will on the volleyball court.
The fourth-year player from Winter Springs, Fla. will do down as arguably the most consistent offensive force in Florida State volleyball history. Barry enters postseason play with a .510 hitting percentage that was first in the ACC and second in the entire nation.
She finished her final regular season at FSU by connecting on 265 of her 447 kill attempts and had just 37 errors. Barry hit above .300 in all but two of FSU’s 30 matches this season, including 24 matches above .400, 16 matches above .500, 10 above .600, seven above .700, two above .800, and a perfect 1.000 in a 3-0 win at Boston College in which she was a perfect 7-for-7 in kills.
Barry also ranks first on the team with 19 solo blocks and second with 102 total blocks.
“I couldn’t have achieved this tremendous honor without the help of my teammates this year,” Barry said. “They give me the confidence needed to go out and play my best every match.”
“This is a huge honor for Bri and also a huge honor for our program,” Poole added. “I think Bri would be the first to say that our team is very balanced and they all feed off of each other. By having so much balance, it has allowed both middles to have an incredible season. Bri has been very consistent this season and deserves this award.”
Joining Barry on the All-ACC Team are fellow first-time selections Price and Morgan. Djuric made the All-ACC Team in 2007.
Price paced the ‘Noles this season with a conference-best 1.32 blocks per set – a mark that ranks No. 21 in the entire country. The Mountain Home, Idaho native concluded the regular season with team-highs in both block assists (129) and total blocks (143). Price also smashed 247 kills on an FSU second-best .354 hitting percentage.
Djuric capped off her final year in the garnet and gold as the ACC’s most feared student-athlete from behind the service line. The Belgrade, Serbia native’s 0.53 service aces per set ranked No. 1 in the ACC and No. 11 in all of Division I college volleyball.
In addition to her team-high 59 service aces, Djuric also led the Seminoles with 282 kills and added a fourth-best total of 166 digs.
Morgan made the All-ACC Team by coming on strong in her second season at Florida State. The talented outside hitter was all over the court as a sophomore, racking up an FSU fourth-best total of 249 kills and a fifth-best total of 144 digs.
Morgan also contributed 24 service aces and 67 total blocks.
“It is a great tribute to our program to have four players recognized on the All-ACC Team,” Poole said. “We have talked about our tremendous balance all year and the fact that teams could not focus on only one or two players. While these four players were selected, we have four to five more that could have just as easily won the honor.
“It has been a total team effort and I am proud of the entire team.”
Yildirim became the first Seminole since Barry in 2006 and just the ninth ever to be placed on the ACC All-Freshman Team.
The Istanbul, Turkey native proved she can do it all from the outside hitter position in her first season playing American volleyball. Yildirim enters tournament play second on the team with 298 digs and fifth with 200 kills.
“Fatma has stepped up big time for us and has been asked to carry a very heavy load for a freshman,” Poole said. “She is fearless and plays very mature for a young player.”
With four All-ACC Team honorees, FSU tied with Clemson for most selections. Four student-athletes on the team is also a new Florida State school record.
Florida State and its cast of conference honorees will now be in action Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Championship. Florida State and Alabama A&M will match up at 5 p.m. on Lucy McDaniel Court.