August 17, 2016 - by
Practice Continues For Seminole Volleyball, Attention on UCF

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Since opening camp in the attempt to make its eighth consecutive NCAA Tournament and spending the last week focused on improving individual skills, the 17th-ranked Florida State volleyball team began instituting its game plan for the season opener at UCF on August 27 earlier this week. The Seminoles, who are the highest ranked of the three Atlantic Coast Conference programs in the AVCA polls, face a tough early schedule that includes non-conference clashes with three AVCA Top 25 programs.

Those matches include meetings with No. 16 Texas A&M and No. 3 Minnesota, which take place at the Puerto Rico Tournament (Sept. 1-3), along with No. 10 Florida, who comes to Tully Gym on Sept. 14.

Senior middle blocker Melanie Keil, who posted 137 assisted blocks and 11 solo blocks in 2015, will be a key component to Florida State’s front row and defensive success this season.

“We have been doing a good job and giving maximum effort in every practice,” said Keil of the Seminole preseason. “By giving this type of effort we have achieved goals that people have set for the team and themselves. Everyone is working hard and there is room for improvement, but overall the effort has been consistent.”

Among the biggest adjustments for Keil and her three senior teammates is the addition of freshmen Bozena Culo, Stasa Miljevic and transfer Natasha Calkins on the front row.

“When I am blocking with the new people I talk to them a lot more than I do with those that have been here,” said Keil of the transition. “They know the calls, but they are not used to calling them—so we talk about it and I make the call so they can get a better feel of when they need to call it in a match.

“On defense, with a block, I have talked to them about being more vocal because my focus is on the opponents’ front row,” said Keil of the defensive tendencies that she focuses on in a match. “My big thing is maximum effort every time and if you work hard it will pay off. I may not have verbally told them that, but I have shown them examples.”

Last season, the tandem of Keil and Sarah Burrington guided the Seminoles to 370 total blocks (634 assisted blocks / 53 solo blocks) which marked the third straight season Florida State had at least 500 assisted blocks (572-2013, 588-2014). It is the most consecutive 500 assisted block seasons since 1986-89 when the Noles combined for 2,551 assisted blocks by posting 684, 709, 524 and 634 in succession.

Keil used her offseason to work on bettering her techniques at the net as she hopes to build upon the defensive strides made in 2015.

“I have really been working on being a fast middle,” said Keil. “I have been working with Anna Khrystenko {assistant coach} to make sure that I am on time and if she tells me that I am not, then I try to go faster.”

FSU fans will have their first opportunity to see the Seminoles on Saturday, Aug. 20 as part of the Garnet and Gold intrasquad match.

FSU will make its official home debut on Sept. 8 when it squares off against Baylor as part of the Home2 Suites by Hilton-Tallahassee Seminole Tournament.

For more information visit Facebook (Florida State Seminoles Volleyball), Twitter (FSU_Volleyball) and Instagram (FSUvolleyball).

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