TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The nationally-ranked Florida State University women’s volleyball team completed a two-match sweep over in-state schools FIU and USF on Saturday to finish undefeated at the FSU Invitational.
The No. 15 Seminoles (3-0) defeated FIU in the afternoon match, 3-0 (25-20, 25-10, 25-21), then won over USF in the nightcap, 3-0 (25-20, 25-11, 25-21).
“The big thing for us to accomplish this tournament was seeing how well we could work together,” coach Chris Poole said. “We got an opportunity to play some different players because of our depth. There were times when we responded real well to adversity, and we did an outstanding job overall. It was without a doubt a total team effort this weekend.”
The Seminoles were given some resistance from the defending Sun Belt champions in two of the three sets this afternoon, but were able to fend off any of their slim deficits to ultimately pull away. FSU finished with a .410 team hitting percentage, while the Panthers (1-2) managed a .185 mark.
Playing well in her first career start at the FBS level was junior college transfer Jekaterina Stepanova. The outside hitter from Riga, Latvia, finished with 10 kills in 18 attempts for a .444 hitting percentage against FIU, and also recorded 11 digs and two blocks. Senior outside hitter Stephanie Neville also had 10 kills while managing four blocks.
FIU’s front line did not register a block in today’s contest, while FSU racked up eight as a unit. Senior Lauren Young continued her resurgent play with four blocks in two sets, including one solo. Sophomore middle blocker Marija Milosavljevic added two blocks for the Seminoles, and improved sophomore Sareea Freeman contributed with two blocks and three kills.
FIU battled the Seminoles in the first set, but were hurt by four critical service errors in the latter part. Visnja Djurdjevic recorded five of her eight kills in the set, and Young’s big block ended the Panther threat to put FSU up 1-0. Stepanova recorded two kills in three attempts.
The second set was handled by the Seminoles, who raced out to a 15-5 advantage on a kill by Neville from a solid set by sophomore Duygu Duzceler. Up 17-8, FSU scored five consecutive points that ended with a kill by sophomore outside hitter Fatma Yildirim, and finished the game on a service error by FIU’s Renele Forde to go up 2-0.
A back-and-forth third set was finally owned by the Seminoles, who were behind 20-18 before winning four consecutive points. Leading 22-21 in the third frame, back-to-back kills by Milosavljevic, Djurdjevic and Neville closed out the match.
FSU improves to 15-4 all-time against FIU.
Milosavljevic led the way in match two versus USF, finishing with seven kills and three blocks. Djurdjevic filled up the stat sheet once again with 11 kills, nine digs and two assists, and Stepanova added five kills and six digs.
The Bulls (0-1) started the second match strong by taking a 7-3 advantage in the first set. However, FSU took the lead for good at 13-12 with a kill by Neville, then reeled off three straights points that included a kill and a solo block by Young. Stepanova then finished the set with a hard kill.
The Seminoles had another solid second set, recording 11 kills altogether. Milosavljevic had three kills and two blocks, while Patricia Figueiredo racked up four assists and two aces. FSU charged to a 16-2 lead on a kill by Djurdjevic, and never looked back en route to a dominant performance.
USF hung close with the Seminoles in the match’s final set, but back-to-back kills by Neville and Djurdjevic put FSU at match point, which was attained on Morgan’s final kill to give the Seminoles two straights sweeps for the day. FSU is now 36-6 against the Bulls all-time.
The Seminoles return with a trip to Houston on Sept. 3-4 to face three competitive clubs in No. 19 Tennessee, Houston and Oklahoma. FSU begins with the tournament against the Cougars on Friday, Sept. 3, at 6:30 p.m. ET.