September 2, 2010 - by
Volleyball Goes to Houston

Sept. 2, 2010

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 13th-ranked Florida State University women’s volleyball team is expecting a stiff test this weekend when it participates in the Houston Invitational at the Athletic/Alumni Center from Sept. 3-4. The Invitational is hosted by the University of Houston.

The Seminoles (3-0) open against Houston on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET, and follow with a matchup versus the nationally-ranked Lady Volunteers (3-0) on Saturday at 11 a.m. ET. FSU wraps up with Oklahoma on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.

“This weekend will be a very good test for our team,”coach Chris Poole said. “Friday will be our first away match as a team against Houston, and the level of competition will be pretty high. We’re expecting it to be a great challenge, but at the same time this weekend won’t make or break our season. We just have to go hard as a team and give every bit of effort we have.”

FSU is coming off a successful weekend at the FSU Invitational, winning nine of 10 sets en route to three victories over New Mexico State (25-16, 26-28, 25-16, 25-10), FIU (25-20, 25-10, 25-21) and USF (25-20, 25-11, 25-21). The Seminoles have begun the year with a 3-0 mark in each of the last three seasons.

Leading FSU in week one was junior outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic, who was named the FSU Invitational MVP as well as the Atlantic Coast Conference Co-Player of the Week. Djurdjevic is averaging 3.6 kills per set and shows 26 digs on the young season.

Middle blockers Lauren Young and Marija Milosavljevic performed well in the team’s first three matches, effectively altering opposing attacks. While FSU shows a .342 attack percentage, its three opponents combined for a .145 percentage. Young, a redshirt senior, has two of FSU’s three solo blocks.

Setters Duygu Duzceler and Patricia Figueiredo combined for 121 assists in the first three matches, routinely putting their hitters in advantageous spots for attacks. Junior Jekaterina Stepanova and senior Stephanie Neville were often the beneficiaries, hitting at a .368 and .356 clip, respectively.

Senior libero Jenna Romanelli remains one of FSU’s most important pieces. The Lighthouse Point, Fla., native has 37 digs to just two reception errors, continuously keeping balls alive while creating chances for her team.

FSU is 8-6 all-time against Tennessee. The Lady Volunteers defeated Xavier, Tennessee-Chattanooga and Virginia Tech in straight sets last weekend at the Comcast Lady Vol Classic in Knoxville. The Lady Vols are led by senior outside hitter Nikki Fowler, who leads the team with 35 kills and 30 digs. Senior middle blocker Leah Hinkley has a team-best 13 blocks, while junior defensive specialist Amanda Friday is second on the squad with 26 digs.

The Sooners (3-1) dropped their season-opener versus Wichita State at the Nike Invitational in Norman, Okla., but rebounded with consecutive wins against Texas-Arlington (3-0), the University of Miami (3-1) and Central Michigan (3-1). Oklahoma junior setter Brianne Barker has 137 assists, while right-side hitter Suzy Boulavsky shows 52 kills and 11 digs.

The Cougars (1-2) fell victim to two Texas schools in Texas-Christian University (0-3) and Texas (0-3). Houston defeated McNeese State by a 3-1 margin last Friday. Redshirt junior middle blocker Luck Charuk leads the team with 40 kills, while setter Amber Brooks has 105 of UH’s 116 assists.

All three of FSU’s matches can be followed via live stats on CBS GameTracker.

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