TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The No. 20 Florida State volleyball team took down the Auburn Tigers 3-2 on Saturday (Sept. 16) afternoon in a nearly three-hour back-and-forth battle. With a tough Auburn defense facing a strong Florida State offense, it took five close sets for the Seminoles to earn its sixth win of the season.
In the first set, the Noles outhit the Tigers with a .371 hitting percentage. Senior outside hitter Milica Kubura led the offense with eight kills on 12 attacks (.583), while junior defensive specialist held down the defense with eight digs to give the Seminoles the first set 25-19.
In the second set showed a huge change in momentum as Auburn held the lead over Florida State from the beginning, holding the Seminoles to just a .056 hitting percentage. With two team blocks, 15 kills and a seemingly impenetrable back row, Auburn took the second set 25-18.
Florida State came out strong in the third set, pulling back that momentum to once again outhit Auburn with its best hitting percentage of the match (.387). Senior outside hitter Natasha Calkins led the offense to the Seminoles’ close 27-25 victory in the third set, earning 7 kills on 11 total attacks (.636).
The fourth set stayed close in the beginning, but the Tigers took off on a 6-1 run midway through the set to gain a five-point lead. The Seminoles fought back but were unable to come back, giving the Tigers the fourth set 25-19. This was the least efficient match for both teams, as neither hit more than .167 and each had at least five hitting errors.
With the match tied up 2-2, both teams put up a fight in the deciding set as the score was tied four times and the match saw two lead changes. A series of errors helped the Seminoles tie it up at 10-10, and then later 12-12 before a kill from Kubura forced an Auburn timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Calkins earned her 18th kill of the match to give Florida State set point, and Kubura followed with her 19th kill of the day to give the Seminoles the final set 15-12.
This match is important to the Seminoles, since the team has not been able to play a competitive match in nearly two weeks due to schedule changes. Florida State is now the only ACC team to defeat Auburn, as the Tigers have already beaten Georgia Tech, NC State, Clemson and preseason conference favorite North Carolina.
Quoting Head Coach Chris Poole
“We still have a lot of things we need to work on, we knew that this was going to be somewhat of a rebuilding year. And we see that out there, we’ve got talent and we can play very well at times, but we can also play down at times and make a lot of mistakes. It was really disappointing seeing the way we came out in that second set, making some mistakes, and we really had to scramble for it in the fourth set. I feel like this is a team that is just going to continue to learn and get better as the season goes on, but we know it’s going to be a lot of work.”
On coming back and playing a tough team after some major schedule changes…
“I think it did hurt us a bit to not play the last two weeks, it’s just different to have those matches to play versus just practicing. Hopefully this gets us fired up again in the right way.”
On how it feels to win another five set match…
“We were down there at the end. Auburn is a good team, they did a lot of things to hurt us, and is shows a lot of character on the girls’ part to come back and fight and still be able to win.”
On how important this win was to them…
“It’s extremely important to get this win because Auburn is having one of their better years, if not the best year they’ve had, so we knew that they were going to be a very tough team. We could’ve gone out and tried to find an easy match but we wanted to go out and challenge ourselves, and I thought Auburn did a great job. They were very well prepared and they’re going to have a great year in the SEC.”
Quoting Senior Outside Hitter Milica Kubura
On what they did to win at the end and her 18 kills…
“I love playing matches like this because it just challenges our character and I know that when it’s on the line I’m going to put the ball down. I think it was some fire on our part that won the last set.”
On the schedule changes…
“I don’t think we’ve been this excited for a game. We’ve had such a long break and we tried to keep ourselves motivated of course, but it was hard. So I’m really excited for this match.”
On pulling out a win in five sets…
“We’ve been working a lot on our mental strength, and I think that was a key. Also we are very close to each other and we can look at each other in these hard moments and know that we’ve got it, so I think that’s huge.”
Up Next for the Seminoles
The No. 20 Florida State volleyball team will head to Gainesville, Fla. on Tuesday (Sept. 19) to take on the No. 3 Florida Gators in the annual Fresh From Florida Sunshine Showdown.
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