Sept. 29, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 14th-ranked Florida State University women’s volleyball team heads to the Tar Heel State to face North Carolina and N.C. State on Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m., respectively.
The Seminoles (11-2, 3-0) begin with the Tar Heels (12-4, 3-0), who join Duke and FSU as the only teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference with an unblemished conference record. FSU has won the last two meetings in 2008 and 2009, and owns a 32-18 series advantage.
UNC is riding an eight-match winning streak, and is coming off a three-set victory over league foe Boston College at home. FSU has defeated UNC in Chapel Hill in its last two visits, winning in 2008 (25-17, 25-20, 25-21) and 2007 (34-32, 25-30, 23-30, 30-24, 16-14).
“North Carolina is a very well-coached team,” coach Chris Poole said. “They are always very competitive and we expect a battle on the road. They’re great defensively and play extremely hard.”
The Seminoles will put their 19-match conference winning streak on the line this week. FSU has not lost a conference match since falling to Georgia Tech at home in five sets on Oct. 2, 2009.
Leading FSU is versatile outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic. She is first on the team with 157 kills and 3.27 kills per set, highlighting a group that is 29th nationally in hitting percentage and 31st in kills per set.
FSU carries a 6-1 record away from Tully Gym, including a 3-0 mark on the road that includes victories at Houston, then-No. 16 Kentucky and Miami. The Seminoles have also won at least 11 of their first 13 matches for the fifth time since joining the ACC in 1991, and for the second consecutive year under coach Chris Poole.
UNC is led by senior Christine Vaughen, who is seventh in the ACC and first on the team with a .370 hitting percentage. Fellow senior Courtney Johnston is 10th in the conference with 3.15 kills per set, while junior defensive specialist Kaylie Gibson leads the ACC with 5.02 digs per set.
The Seminoles enter Thursday’s matchup as a nationally-ranked squad for the 20th consecutive week, staying present in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll since being ranked 22nd on Sept. 7, 2009.
Senior Lauren Young and sophomores Sareea Freeman and Marija Milosavljevic look to continue FSU’s defensive stability at the middle blocker position. All three players rank in the Top 10 in the ACC in blocks per set, with Freeman leading the way with 1.15 blocks per set that is seventh in the conference and 72nd nationally.
The Seminoles continue with N.C. State on Friday evening at the Reynolds Coliseum. FSU holds a 20-match winning streak over the Wolfpack (11-4, 1-2) that dates back to Sept. 29, 2000. It is FSU’s longest active winning streak against a conference opponent, with Wake Forest falling second at nine matches.
“N.C. State is having one of their best seasons in many years,” Poole added. “They are playing with a lot of confidence, and their new staff has them very motivated.”
N.C. State’s top victory this season comes against Illinois State, as it won a five-setter on Sept. 3. Junior Margaret Salata leads the team with a .373 hitting percentage, while junior Becah Fogle is first with 3.36 kills per set. Sophomore Megan Cyr is second in the ACC with 10.88 assists per set.
Both matches can be followed on CBS GameTracker from the Seminoles.com volleyball page.