Aug. 10, 2005
The Florida State volleyball season starts on Friday – it’s the first day of practice in what promises to be an enthralling campaign that will last more than four months.
Eight returners, two transfers, and two freshmen will hit the volleyball court on Lucy McDaniel Court at Tully Gym Friday to jumpstart the 2005 season and the focus of attention will be on vying for a place at the top of the league and national race. Although practice is just the first stone of a long road ahead, the Seminoles recognize that every moment counts.
For the next three days, Seminoles.com will sit down with head coach Todd Kress to talk about various topics surrounding this year’s squad.
The last couple days we talked newcomers and the coaching staff. Now, it’s time to break it down by position:
The one area that should not pose a threat for the Seminoles is the outside hitter positions. Florida State has three senior veterans returning who are headlining the group–Kristen Rust, Andreza Santos, and Lauren Scott–and each of them will provide numerous options for the Tribe along with newcomers Gabrielle Rivera, Marrita Royster-Crockett, and Makini Thompson.
Rust led Florida State with 3.80 kills per game in 2004 and Santos, despite missing half the season with an injury, averaged a healthy 2.22 kpg. and .256 hitting percentage. Scott saw limited action last year but averaged a respectable 1.93 kpg. and hit a .209 clip, while Thompson hit .288 and averaged 3.24 kills per game for Long Beach State while leading the 49ers to the NCAA Tournament. With seven Tribe members capable of playing outside hitter, it is safe to say it’s the one area Florida State should dominate.
According To Kress…
“The hitters could be the most athletic group we have had since I’ve been here. The fact that we can throw Rust, Santos, Rivera, Thompson, Scott, and Royster-Crockett out there says a lot about my confidence in this group. They are all big jumpers and they all hit with pace. They just need to continue to learn to hit more shots which we are going to learn how to do in preseason. Also, they need to be smart about their shot selections. If they do that, I really am going to like our front row this year.”
With two key players lost to graduation, the Seminoles have their work cut out for them at the middle position. Senior Lauren Scott returns and although she saw limited action last year, she was able to learn a great deal from veterans Aisha Carr and Amanda Santos. With one season at the Division I level under her belt, 2005 could be a breakout season for Scott and Kress will rely on her to lead the way at the middle position.
She is a freshman and young, but Gabrielle Rivera is far from lacking talent or experience. Rivera, the daughter of a former Puerto Rican national basketball team member, has been a member of the PR Junior National team the last two seasons and just like teammate Summer Weissing, she competed at the U20 World Championships in Turkey this summer. Considered one of the top recruits in the nation, Rivera will look for an opportunity to transform into a starting middle at the college level.
According To Kress…
“Leading the way at middle are Laura Scott and Gabrielle Rivera. That will be the one position that we are going to need to be able to get some production out of to kind of stabilize our outsides. This will be a rebuilding year for our middles and I’ll look for someone to step up and assume a leadership role here. Anytime you lose two franchise-type players like Aisha Carr and Amanda Santos, it’s hard to fill those shoes right away. This will be a key position and I feel like we’ll need a lot of production and early hard work out of the middle blockers.”
Junior Jessica Skower quarterbacked the Seminoles in 2004 and started all but one match the entire season. With 1,348 set assists last season, she not only led the Seminoles, but ranked fifth in the ACC. In two seasons at FSU she has accumulated 1,952 total assists which ranks her eighth all-time on the Seminoles individual single season list.
One luxury about this year is Florida State will sport two setters who are both willing and able to guide the Seminole offense. Junior college transfer Zrinka Tomic will challenge Skower for playing time at the setter position and her stature will provide a completely different look for the Tribe.
According To Kress…
“Having two setters will give us the opportunity to look at a 6-2 at any given time or we may stick with the 5-1. Jessica Skower and Zrinka Tomic are both very capable of running our offense as Jessica did last season. Zrinka has experience and she has done it…she is a very heady player and has the ability to step right in at this level. I feel very comfortable at the setter position this year.”
She has permanently inked her name in the Florida State record book after tallying an impressive 399 digs (3.66 dpg) during her freshman season in 2004–and she’s only getting started. A fan favorite thanks to the passion and enthusiasm she displays at matches, Summer Weissing returns as the frontrunner at the libero position in 2005. Weissing is one of the nation’s best liberos and she landed on the United State’s U20 World Championship team this past summer, traveling to Turkey, with the red, white and blue. In October, Weissing was named Volleyball Magazine’s “Player of the Month,” which was a huge accomplishment for both the native of Boca Raton, Fla., and the FSU volleyball program as a whole. Weissing is a gem for the Seminoles and she is on track to become the Seminoles all-time dig leader. Joining Weissing are veteran defensive specialists Kim Crawford, Sarah Griffin and Lauren Walker who will compete for playing time. Griffin is used as a utility player and logged a considerable amount of playing time in 2004. She averaged 1.85 dpg and registered 21 aces in 104 games. A leader both on and off the court, Griffin sets the bar in all areas of her life for others to follow.
According To Kress…
“At defensive specialist, Summer Weissing has obviously taken her game to a completely different level this summer. She represented the United States in Turkey at the U20 World Championships, which is an incredible honor for her. That is really a testament to her work ethic and determination. So, I really look forward to her showing off her stuff and making all those around her better. As for Kim Crawford, Sarah Griffin, and Lauren Walker, we are going to need production out of them. Ball handling is going to be huge for us this year. That is going to be a big key for us. We are going to need them to step up and make our offense go.”