Sept. 9, 2011
Follow the FSU Volleyball Team on Twitter: @fsu_volleyball
DAYTON, Ohio (seminoles.com) – Although the day did not start well for the 24th-ranked Florida State University indoor volleyball team, a season-high 15 blocks and a dominant performance by senior Jekaterina Stepanova pushed FSU past No. 23 Dayton, 3-1 (25-23, 22-25, 25-23, 25-13), on Friday evening at the Dayton Marriott Flyer Classic in the Frericks Center.
The Seminoles’ (6-3) turnaround performance against the Flyers (4-4) gives FSU its second Top-25 victory this season, having already defeated then No. 23 Tulsa at home on Aug. 27. It is also the fifth ranked team to fall to the Seminoles since head coach Chris Poole took over in 2008, as well as FSU’s second road win over a ranked opponent since 2008.
FSU’s performance this evening was reassuring after it fell to No. 20 Michigan earlier in the day at 3-0 (21-25, 17-25, 15-25). Through nine matches this season, the Seminoles have faced five Top-25 teams and eight 2010 NCAA participants.
“It was a very disappointing effort earlier today,” Poole said. “We got some bad breaks in the first set and let it affect us the rest of the match. We really challenged the girls to get past that first match and come back strong tonight. They showed a lot of character.”
Poole, who picked up his 630th career victory, helped ignite the play of senior outside hitter Jekaterina Stepanova. She put together a season-high 21 kills, 14 kills and a .348 attack percentage, breaking her career high of 20 kills that she set twice last season versus Kansas State and Duke.
Fellow senior Visnja Djurdjevic put together a strong effort today, including a 17-kill nightcap to mark a season high. Since coming to FSU in 2010, Djurdjevic has recorded 17 or more kills in a single match on seven occasions.
Middle blockers Ashley Neff and Sareea Freeman guided FSU to a tremendous blocking effort. Freeman recorded eight blocks while Neff added seven. Also contributing was junior Marija Milosavljevic with her four blocks, while Rachael Morgan also batted down four balls.
FSU endured a difficult outing in its first match of the Dayton Marriott Flyer Classic as it allowed Michigan to record a .410 attack percentage in the three-set affair. Michigan’s offensive output is the highest by any Seminole opponent in the Chris Poole era.
A bright spot in the Seminoles’ loss to Michigan was Djurdjevic, who recorded 11 kills in 25 attacks and committed just two errors for a .360 hitting percentage. The Zitiste, Serbia, native picked up her third double-double of the season while adding two service aces and a block.
Neff added four kills in eight attacks versus Michigan, and contributed with four blocks. FSU’s five team blocks tied its season-low that was originally set at Florida.
Already the fourth ranked opponent FSU has played this season, Michigan kept the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top attack in check for the majority of the match. In the first set, the Wolverines hit .405 and registered 16 kills, while Stepanova and Djurdjevic combined for 13 of FSU’s 15 kills in the set. Starting off with an early 4-1 lead on a kill by Duzceler, UM fought back quickly and raced off to a 19-12 advantage on a service ace from Alex Hunt. FSU could not recover and ended up losing the set on a service error.
FSU kept the second set close and tied the frame at 11-11 on a block by Freeman and Djurdjevic. UM then won the next four points, but the Seminoles countered with five straight capped by a solo block from Neff to take a 16-15 lead. The Wolverines then squashed any momentum by the Seminoles by winning seven consecutive points and eventually taking set No. 2.
UM recorded 21 kills in 33 attacks in the third set, and never trailed in the frame. Setter Lexi Dannemiller recorded 17 assists as FSU’s deficit throughout was too much to overcome.
The Seminoles return with their final match of the Dayton Marriott Flyer Classic on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Frericks Center against Pepperdine.
Following Saturday’s contest, FSU returns home for its conference-opening match against rival Miami on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 8 p.m. The match will be televised on ESPNU.