Aug. 29, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State volleyball team defeated Florida A&M in three sets Saturday night (25-18, 25-23, 25-19) and in doing so, wrapped up the Florida State Invitational championship for the fourth-straight season.
By defeating the cross-town Rattlers, the Seminoles not only advanced to 3-0 on the season but they also moved to 21-0 all-time against Florida A&M (0-3).
The weekend caps off a strong start to the 2009 season for FSU as a showdown with rival Florida looms on Monday night. Still, head coach Chris Poole knows that the team has a lot of room to improve as the season progresses.
“We had some mountains and we had some valleys,” Poole said. “But if we build on the strengths we showed when we did play well, I think we can really progress and be a really good team. We’ve got some weaknesses that we need to work on in the next couple of weeks without much time to do it. It’s a good start, though.”
FSU buried FAMU thanks in large part to sophomore Rachael Morgan. The Tauranga, New Zealand native notched a team-high 10 kills on just 17 attempts for a hitting percentage of .529.
Her stellar play not just Saturday but over the course of the two-day event was enough to earn All-Tournament MVP honors as voted on by the coaches of the teams in the event.
“Rachael has improved a lot since last fall,” Poole said. “That was one of the first things that we notice in the preseason. She worked very hard in the spring and the summer to get herself in good shape and it really showed this weekend.”
Senior middle blocker Brianna Barry also made the All-Tournament Team as she capped off her weekend with a nine-kill, six-block performance against FAMU. Fellow senior Jordana Price and Mira Djuric contributed nine and six kills, respectively.
In the first match of the day, Florida State experienced its first real adversity of the young 2009 season as North Dakota State — riding a streak of six-straight set-wins at the Florida State Invitational from Friday – pushed the Seminoles to the brink.
After FSU earned a 25-18 victory in the first set, the Bison (2-1) earned back-to-back wins in sets two and three by scores of 25-21 and 26-24, respectively.
Up 24-22 in the fourth set, a kill by Morgan tied the match at two sets apiece and then FSU closed out North Dakota State with a close 15-13 victory in the decisive fifth set.
Playing in her first game as a Seminole, Yildirim posted a double-double with 13 kills and 12 digs. Yildirim wasn’t the only FSU player on the offensive attack as Barry had 13 kills of her own, Neville added 12, Djuric had 11 and Morgan finished with 10.
Jenna Romanelli was all over the court from the libero position as the junior from Lighthouse Point, Fla. achieved a match-high and new career-high 28 digs. She also earned a new career-best in assists with four, breaking her previous record of two.
Next up for the Seminoles is a showdown with the No. 8 Florida Gators on Monday night. That matchup, which will take place at 7 p.m. in Gainesville, Fla., will be aired live on Sun Sports.