Nov. 3, 2011
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 18th-ranked Florida State University indoor volleyball team gears up for a difficult home finish as it faces N.C. State on Friday evening at 7 p.m. followed by second-place UNC on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Tully Gym. Four senior student-athletes in Rachael Morgan, Jekaterina Stepanova, Patricia Figueiredo and Visnja Djurdjevic will be recognized prior to FSU’s Friday night contest.
The Seminoles (19-4, 13-0) finish their regular-season home schedule against two schools that are having good seasons. The Tar Heels (19-5, 11-2) begin the weekend in second-place by two matches in the latest ACC standings, but must first face third-place Miami on Friday in a road matchup. The Hurricanes sit just outside the Top 25 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll.
N.C. State head coach Bryan Bunn has done a fine job turning around the Wolfpack (17-9, 5-8) in just his second season. Arguably FSU’s toughest match this season came in Raleigh, N.C., on Oct. 9 when N.C. State took FSU to five sets before falling by a 15-13 score in set five.
Against the Wolfpack, FSU was saved by its blocking as it registered a season-best 26 team blocks. The total is the highest this year by any ACC team, with the next most being Maryland with 20 versus Sacred Heart. FSU’s 26 blocks was also the most since head coach Chris Poole began in 2008.
FSU’s victory at North Carolina in four sets was significant in that it was a battle of first-place teams with undefeated conference records. The win also gave FSU its best ACC start in school history with a 6-0 record as sophomore Ashley Neff led the way with a then-career high 12 blocks that was passed by her 14 blocks against N.C. State.
Should the Seminoles defeat both N.C. State and North Carolina this weekend, it would be the first time FSU finishes a regular season with an unblemished home record since joining the ACC in 1991.
The 18th-ranked Florida State Seminoles have enjoyed their tremendous home turnout this season. Entering the weekend against N.C. State and North Carolina, FSU is 10-0 at Tully Gym, including 7-0 in the ACC. Not only have fans been treated to some extraordinary play by the Noles, but the whole gameday experience has been expedited because only two of FSU’s 10 home opponents have taken it to beyond three sets. FSU has won by a 3-0 score in every home match except against then-No. 23 Tulsa (3-1) and Wake Forest (3-2).
The Tully Advantage
FSU has certainly found its comfort zone at Tully Gym in 2011. Although fans will have to stay tuned through the end of the season to see if the Seminoles could host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the Seminoles end their regular-season home schedule this week against UNC and N.C. State. Sporting an undefeated home record, FSU is looking to finish its regular-season home slate with an unblemished record for the first time since it joined the ACC in 1991.
Through 13 conference matches, the Seminoles have been stifling opposing attacks with their size and length. FSU typically poses a bigger front than its opposition and has used that to its advantage in the ACC.
So far, the Seminoles have not allowed an ACC team to hit better than .226. In its 3-1 victory at Maryland on Oct. 21, the Terrapins produced the season high hitting percentage. Only two other ACC teams have hit above .200 against FSU, including Virginia (.216 on Sept. 23) and Miami (.205 on Sept. 14).
Getting to 20 Wins
The Seminoles will attempt to win their 20th match of the season while playing in their 24th match thus far. History shows that FSU’s current season could mark one of the fastest to 20 wins since the program began.
If FSU can defeat N.C. State on Friday evening, the 2011 squad would tie as the fourth-fastest team to get to 20 victories with a 20-4 record, matching the 1981 team’s mark in the days of the Metro Conference.
The school record for being the quickest to 20 wins was during the 1983, 1989 and 2009 seasons when it took just 22 matches by each club to reach the mark.