Sep 1, 2013
LONG BEACH, Calif. (seminoles.com) – Behind a superb offensive effort led by sophomore outside hitter Nicole Walch, the 18th-ranked Florida State indoor volleyball team defeated Long Beach State, 3-2 (15-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-18, 15-12), to finish the Long Beach State Mizuno Invitational late Saturday night at the Walter Pyramid.
Walch delivered a career 21 kills, the highest total by a Seminole since former AVCA Second-Team All-American Jekaterina Stepanova terminated 21 kills at Dayton on Sept. 9, 2011. Walch recorded a .325 hitting percentage and fittingly ended the match with a kill in the fifth set while the Seminoles (2-1) clung to a 14-12 lead.
Senior Elise Walch, Nicole’s sister, was also a big part of Florida State’s quality day on the attack. The Stuart, Fla. native added 15 kills, one shy of her career-best at Florida State, while hitting .400 and adding five digs.
The win was Florida State’s first-ever victory over Long Beach State, entering the tournament with an 0-5 series record versus the 49ers (1-1).
“We played with incredible heart tonight in a great volleyball atmosphere,” head coach Chris Poole said. “We were not perfect and have work to do but I’m really proud of how the team battled all weekend.”
Having a strong weekend for the Seminoles (2-1) was redshirt freshman middle blocker Sarah Burrington. Against the 49ers, the Ruskin, Fla. native had nine kills and a .533 attack percentage while adding seven blocks. Senior Ashley Neff added six kills and recorded five blocks, as Florida State held the overall edge in blocking at 13-11.
Redshirt junior libero Katie Mosher was steady once again in the back row, recording 14 of Florida State’s 53 digs. The Fort Myers, Fla. native now has 1,140 career digs, just ten shy of tying FSU volleyball great Nancy Gaspadarek for sixth place.
The fifth and final set was highlighted by offensive execution, as the Seminoles recorded a .455 hitting percentage which did not include any attack errors. A service ace by Luke gave Florida State its first lead of the set at 5-4, and from there the Seminoles never looked back. Burrington and Nicole Walch were responsible for the next four points to make it 9-5, but Long Beach State’s Alex Reid found her touch and cut its deficit to 12-11.
Staying poised, Nicole Walch responded with a kill, and an attack error by Long Beach State set up Walch’s match-winning kill.
The Seminoles hung with the 49ers early in the first set, as Izzy Carmona’s kill off a set from Luke tied the match early at 8-8. However, Long Beach State used a few small runs punctuated by a few kills from Haleigh Hampton to eventually pull away and win the first frame convincingly 25-15.
Nicole Walch’s seven kills led Florida State’s offense in the second set as the Seminoles won 25-23. Wickstrom paced the attack with nine assists. Trailing 16-15, Florida State strung together four consecutive points as a block by Olivera Medic and Burrington capped the run. However, the 49ers stayed relentless and tied the set late at 23-23 on a Florida State service error. A well-placed kill by Elise Walch down the line put Florida State at set point, and Laura Dadowski subbed in and recorded a big service ace to tie the match.
Long Beach State led for the majority of the third set, breaking a 7-7 tie on a kill by Chisom Okpala and never trailing the rest of the way. Nicole Walch tried to keep Florida State in the frame with her three kills and two blocks. Down 22-16, the Seminoles went on a 4-0 run which included consecutive blocks from Neff, but Hampton came back by playing a hand in two blocks of her own to finish the set.
The Seminoles won fourth set by hitting .345, while Long Beach State was held to a .077 clip as it struggled for offensive rhythm in the frame.
Florida State heads to Tallahassee to prepare for next weekend’s Four Points by Sheraton Seminole Invitational. The Seminoles open with No. 23 Ohio State on Friday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. on ESPN3. Florida State then plays twice on Saturday against No. 21 Western Kentucky at noon and against Florida Gulf Coast at 7 p.m.
Follow Florida State indoor volleyball on Seminoles.com as well as on the team’s official Twitter (@FSU_Volleyball) and Facebook pages (Facebook.com/FSUVolleyball).