Aug. 23, 2011
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Expectations are high once again for the Florida State University indoor volleyball program as the Atlantic Coast Conference announced that the Seminoles are predicted to finish second in the league as selected by the ACC’s 12 head coaches.
“I appreciate the second-place ranking by the league coaches,” head coach Chris Poole said. “However, we realize that we have to work hard and need to stay healthy to compete in this conference. The ACC was the deepest in talent it has ever been last year and continues to get better every year. There are a lot of great players choosing the ACC because of its reputation in both academics and athletics. This will make each match a tremendous challenge.”
Duke, which reached the Elite Eight in 2010 and finished last season as the regular season champion, earned 117 out of a possible 121 points as the league’s predicted champion in 2011. FSU picked up 110 points, including three first-place votes, followed by North Carolina (98), Miami (96), Georgia Tech (73) and Virginia Tech (72). The seventh through 12th-place teams include Clemson (64), Maryland (47), Virginia (45), Wake Forest (36), NC State (22), and Boston College (12).
Since Poole’s arrival as head coach in 2008, the 24-year coaching veteran has elevated the expectations of the FSU volleyball program. In 2009, FSU was predicted to finish second in the conference before finishing with an astonishing 19-1 record in the league en route to the school’s second ACC championship.
In 2010, FSU and Duke were predicted to finish as co-champions in the conference. The two schools played one match last season, which was won by FSU in Tallahassee in five sets without one of its top student-athletes in Visnja Djurdjevic. FSU went on to reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
This season, Duke and FSU get back to playing twice in the regular season. The first match will occur on Friday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m. in what will be a Seminoles.com All-Access webcast at Tully Gym. FSU’s match in Durham, N.C., happens late in the season on Nov. 13 at 1 p.m.
In addition to the Seminoles’ preseason prediction, two players in outside hitter Rachael Morgan and Djurdjevic were one of 18 conference student-athletes named to the preseason All-ACC team. FSU’s two represented athletes tied for the second most behind Duke’s four.
In 2010, Djurdjevic finished with 410 kills in 31 matches played, the most by a Seminole since 2007. The senior from Zitiste, Serbia is vying to become the first FSU volleyball player to earn multiple All-America accolades as a Seminole. A Tulane transfer, Djurdjevic was an American Volleyball Coaches Association selection as a sophomore in 2009 and as a junior at FSU last season.
Morgan looks to be a steady presence on the right side this season. She was one of four FSU players who earned AVCA All-America accolades in 2009 when she finished with 281 kills, a .248 hitting percentage and 77 total blocks. Last season she was forced to miss a total of nine matches due to a stress fracture, but still aided the team by registering a .253 hitting percentage and 191 kills.
“I am excited for Visnja and Rachael with their selection of preseason All-ACC,” Poole added. “They are both deserving of this recognition. Last fall was very difficult for both of them and there is no doubt that having them healthy and on the court makes us a much better team.”
The conference as a whole will be looking to improve on one of its best years after finishing the 2010 season with a 108-39 (.739) out-of-conference record, the best in ACC history. The conference has sent a league-record five teams to the NCAA Volleyball Championship for two straight years and has had a representative reach the regional final in both years as well, with FSU advancing to the Round of 8 in 2009 and Duke repeating the feat in 2010.
Action gets underway this weekend when FSU begins the season against Kentucky on Friday evening at 7 p.m. at Tully Gym.