Nov. 4, 2011
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 18th-ranked Florida State University indoor volleyball team kept its unbeaten conference record intact on “Senior Night” as it defeated North Carolina State, 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-15), Friday evening in front of another packed crowd at Tully Gym.
A gathering of 1,118 in attendance came out to support FSU’s four senior student-athletes in Rachael Morgan, Patricia Figueiredo, Visnja Djurdjevic and Jekaterina Stepanova prior to the match. Once the first serve occurred, the Seminole faithful witnessed another strong performance by the Garnet and Gold as it earned another sweep. The Seminoles (20-4, 14-0) move to 11-0 at home and have won by 3-0 scores in every home match except for a 3-1 victory against then-No. 23 Tulsa and a 3-2 win over Wake Forest.
With one more regular-season match at home on Sunday, FSU is looking to go unbeaten in Tully Gym for the entire season for the first time since joining the ACC in 1991. The victory over the Wolfpack (17-10, 5-9) is also FSU’s 20th this season, making the 2011 Seminoles the fourth-fastest team in school history to reach 20 wins. FSU’s 20 victories in just 24 matches played trails only the 1983, 1989 and 2009 squads that reached 20 wins in just 22 matches played.
“I thought we really played well in sets one and three. We really let down in set two and we’ve challenged them between those sets to come back alive and play,” head coach Chris Poole said. “We made some uncharacteristic mistakes tonight but at the same time we did some good things. N.C. State’s playing with a lot of confidence – they’ve got a new coach and a new system and he’s got those kids believing in what they are doing. We knew they would come at us hard but our girls never quit.”
FSU held N.C. State to a .092 hitting percentage, and has yet to allow an ACC opponent to hit greater than .226 this season. The Seminoles fared better on the offensive end, hitting .238 while being led by Stepanova’s 12 kills and 10 digs. Stepanova’s double-double was her team-leading 10th this season and her first since posting 18 kills and 10 digs at Maryland on Oct. 21.
Morgan had a strong all-around performance, garnering six kills and a .500 hitting percentage while adding three digs and three blocks. Djurdjevic contributed with eight kills on a .333 attacking percentage and added 13 digs.
Another bit of significance in Friday’s win is that FSU is the first ACC team to start conference play with a 14-0 record since Clemson accomplished the same feat in 2007.
N.C. State played FSU tough in the first set, which mirrored the close battle both teams played when the Seminoles won 3-2 earlier in the season. The Wolfpack started fast with a 5-2 lead on a Dariyan Hopper kill, and 11 tied scores and five lead changes ensued in the first frame. Morgan’s service ace midway through put FSU ahead at 17-14, but N.C. State was not ready to go away as it later tied the set at 18-18 on a Margaret Salata kill. From there, FSU countered with a 7-0 run that ended with a kill by Elise Walch to give the Seminoles the first set.
The second set was also close early on, but one FSU run was all that was needed to break away. Holding on to a 12-11 lead over N.C. State, the Seminoles went on another 7-0 run that included two kills and a block by Walch. FSU then closed out the set on a kill by Stepanova.
Following the 10-minute intermission, FSU was dominant in the third set as Djurdjevic’s five kills led an offense that hit .323 and held the Wolfpack to a .081 clip. Stepanova added four kills and two digs while the match ended on a block by Sareea Freeman and Djurdjevic to give FSU a victory on “Senior Night.”
The Seminoles now hold a three-match lead in the latest conference standings as North Carolina fell at Miami on Friday evening, 3-1. UNC and Miami are both three matches behind the Seminoles for second in the conference, showing 11-3 conference records.
FSU ends its regular-season home schedule with a tough matchup versus UNC on Sunday afternoon at Tully Gym. First serve is scheduled for 1 p.m.