December 3, 2016 - by
Sweet Seminole Run Continues After Five-Set Thriller

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The 16th-ranked Florida State volleyball team rallied from a 0-2 deficit and won the next three sets as it advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament with a victory over Sunshine State rival and 11th-seeded Florida (13-25, 16-25, 25-23, 25-19, 15-12) on Saturday evening at Lemerand Center Gym. The Seminoles’ victory marked their second five-set win over Florida in the NCAA Tournament and sets up a meeting with Stanford in Madison, Wisc. next weekend.

With the momentum shifting in favor of the Seminoles, after capturing the third and fourth sets, Florida quickly opened the fifth set with a kill by Alex Holston. Florida State answered with a series of kills by Katie Horton, Brianne Burkert and Milica Kubura, resulting in an 8-6 Seminole lead.
Florida bounced back with a 5-3 run before a block by Natasha Calkins forced an 11-all deadlock. The Seminoles grabbed the lead, 13-12 on a Calkins kill before adding a strike by Kubura to be at match point. Melanie Keil delivered the final blow for the Noles, acing Carli Snyder as Florida State triumphed.
Horton, who finished with a team-high 18 kills to go along with 12 digs, and junior outside hitter Kubura (14 kills, .414 attack percentage) were the catalysts to a Florida State offense that tallied 56 kills on 156 swings.
Calkins was also active on offense with eight kills, while Mara Green tallied seven. The duo of Brianne Burkert (30 assists) and Hailey Luke (20) piloted the Florida State offense to a .263 hitting percentage.
Florida State’s defense proved to be the deciding factor in the victory as they held the Gators (27-4) to under a .250 hitting percentage over the final three sets. Among the defensive leaders were Calkins, Green and Keil, who finished with four assisted blocks each, and Cecilie Woie who recorded 19 digs.
Horton joined Woie among the back row leaders with 12 digs, finishing off her 26th career double-double. A versatile Luke added 14 digs to mark her 15th career double-double and Burkert added 10 digs to make for back-to-back double-doubles.
Florida State carried over the momentum from the third set victory into the fourth as it established a 10-2 lead fueled by three kills each from Kubura and Horton. Florida battled back, using a 5-2 run to cut the margin to 12-7, but a timely kill by Calkins along with an unforced Gator error helped the Seminoles extend the margin back to six.
After a kill from Keil and a block by the tandem of Kubura and Green gave Florida State a 19-12 lead the Gators put together one more run to pull within four. The Seminoles capitalized on kills down the stretch by Horton, Keil and Kubura to force a decisive fifth set.
In similar fashion to the first two sets Florida assumed the early lead, 15-10, however the Seminoles made adjustments during a media timeout and responded with three kills by Calkins and one from Luke to trim the Gator advantage to 18-17. Florida State completed the rally with an unforced error by Rhamat Alhassan, bringing the set to an 18-all tie.
The two teams endured three ties over the next 10 points before reaching a 23-all deadlock on a kill by Kubura. After an attack error by Holston put Florida State at set point, with Horton in serve, Kubura drove home the decisive two-point kill for the third set victory.
Two kills by Horton and one off the hand of Kubura accounted for the first three Seminole points, but it was the combination of Holston and Carli Snyder that helped give Florida a 10-5 lead at the first timeout. Burkert and Keil recorded two of the next four Florida State points, but Carli Snyder drove home two kills as the Gators forged ahead 17-9.
Kubura exploded for a kill out of the second Florida State timeout and Horton added her third strike of the set as the Gator lead stood at 19-12. Florida scored six of the final 10 points of the set as it assumed a 2-0 lead.
The Gators broke an early two-all tie by scoring nine of the next 13 points, using a pair of kills by Holston and Rhamat Alhassan to make for an 11-6 lead. Strikes from Horton and Green were not enough to get Florida State’s offense in rhythm as Florida stretched its lead to 19-9, behind four kills from Holston.
Kubura and Calkins got the Seminoles into double figures on kills, but Florida closed out the opening set with a 12-point win.
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