Nov. 6, 2011
Follow the FSU Volleyball Team on Twitter: @fsu_volleyball
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Facing one of the top teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the 18th-ranked Florida State University indoor volleyball team responded to the challenge with a 3-1 (25-16, 12-25, 25-21, 25-21) victory over North Carolina on Sunday afternoon to finish 12-0 at home during the regular season.
“I know the girls were feeling a tremendous amount of pressure,” head coach Chris Poole said. “Obviously, it means a lot to win every home game. The crowd was great again today. Volleyball is a sport where the momentum can shift back and forth and you need your crowd to help you.
“North Carolina was motivated after getting upset by Miami on Friday night. This was a big match for them and they needed it,” Poole added. “They played like they needed it; they played hard the whole time. Sometimes we didn’t have answers for them, particularly in game two. Overall, our girls settled down and played well throughout the match.”
The Seminoles (21-4, 15-0) overcome a bit of adversity against the Tar Heels (19-7, 11-4) as both teams were knotted at 1-1 overall following UNC’s dominant second-set victory. Coming out of the 10-minute intermission, it was important for FSU to get off to a good start as momentum swung UNC’s way. FSU dug itself into a small hole when it faced an immediate 4-0 deficit in the third frame.
From there, FSU settled down and strung off seven consecutive points that brought the crowd of 1,010 to its feet in what was another tremendous turnout at Tully Gym. In that run were two service aces by senior outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic, who set a season high with six services aces in the match. Djurdjevic finished with nine kills and nine digs.
Another 5-0 run by FSU in the third set created a 14-7 advantage against a relentless UNC squad that kept battling back. The Seminoles later held a 19-13 lead on a kill by Rachael Morgan, but UNC used three FSU attack errors, a service ace by Kaylie Gibson and a kill by Chaniel Nelson to cut the Seminole lead to 19-18. Both teams began to trade points until junior middle blocker Sareea Freeman played a hand in two of FSU’s three consecutive points to give the Seminoles a 24-20 advantage. Freeman fittingly ended the important third set with a kill to create an overall 2-1 cushion.
Freeman finished with nine kills and five blocks. Jekaterina Stepanova and Elise Walch provided an offensive boost with 10 kills apiece, while Stepanova added 12 digs for her second straight double-double and her 11th of the year. Walch also played a vital role with five blocks.
Sophomore middle blocker Ashley Neff also was important in Sunday’s victory, garnering seven kills and just one error in 14 attacks for a .429 hitting percentage. The Kennesaw, Ga., native added five blocks.
What FSU attempted to do in the third set, it had accomplished in the fourth set in starting off strong. This time the Seminoles held the quick 4-0 advantage that included two more service aces from Djurdjevic. A kill by Walch raced FSU out to a 9-1 advantage, as she picked up four big kills in the frame. Eventually, UNC began to catch up as a kill by Erica Behm brought the Seminole lead to just 20-16. However, the teams began to trade points over the next six rallies, and a block by Walch and Freeman sealed the match.
Redshirt freshman libero Katie Mosher guided FSU from the back row with 21 digs, totaling 409 for the season. The Fort Myers, Fla., native is on pace to crack the single-season Top 10 digs list at FSU, with former Seminole Holly Schneider having 421 digs in 1998 for 10th-place. The school single-season record is held by Summer Weissing, who holds an attainable mark of 513 that she set in 2005.
FSU’s victory also marks its 15th consecutive win, tying the 1983 team’s streak for fourth-longest in school history. The 1989 squad is third with 17 consecutive wins, while the second-longest is 19 straight victories in 2009. The school record for the longest win streak is 21 matches in 1981.
Since joining the ACC in 1991, FSU had never gone undefeated at home during the regular season. With two more victories over the weekend, the Seminoles hold a three-match lead over Miami after the Hurricanes defeated N.C. State, 3-0, this afternoon. FSU also defeated Miami in its first head-to-head matchup of the season on Sept. 14. The Hurricanes have a 12-3 record in ACC play.
The Seminoles now face the challenge of finishing the regular season on a five-match road trip, starting next weekend with a 7 p.m. match at Wake Forest on Friday followed by a 1 p.m. match at Duke on Sunday.