TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State indoor volleyball team played yet another memorable season in 2013, finishing with an overall record of 26-8 while advancing into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the third time in school history.
Florida State finished the year ranked No. 11 in the AVCA poll, which was the highest for the team in 2013. In addition, the Seminoles were 17th in the RPI after the tournament run and second place finish in the ACC.
The year was filled with memorable and historical moments, starting with a school record setting fifth-consecutive NCAA appearance. In addition, Coach Poole’s 2013 squad set another FSU mark with six wins over ranked teams (Michigan, Kentucky, Western Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Florida). The six Top 25 wins topped the 2011 and 2012 teams that previous set a school record with five nationally-ranked wins apiece.
The 11th-ranked Seminoles have now seen 40 consecutive-weeks inside the AVCA top 25, stretching their school that was previously held at 24 weeks.
While in ACC play, FSU is tough to beat on its home court. As a home-court advantage, the Seminoles have won 27 straight ACC matches inside Tully Gym a feat that is unprecedented in program history.
“I was very proud of the team this year,” head coach Chris Poole said. “With us having to replace four starting seniors (from 2012) with four underclassman, we knew we had a lot of question marks going into the season. We had some matches where we struggled, but this was a team that always came together to rise back up after a loss. This was a year that we definitely had to depend on every player to contribute and we had a lot of outstanding performances.”
Playing one of the toughest schedules with Poole at the helm, the Seminoles grabbed four of their best wins in school history during the 2013 season.
Marked as the highest ranked win in FSU history, the 3-2 upset over the Gators proved to have much more meaning on Dec. 6. Not only did FSU advance into its third-ever Sweet 16, it ended a 23-year drought in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center as the Seminoles captured their first win over the rival in Gainesville since Oct. 9, 1990.
The match was one of the most talked about duels around the country, as the old-fashioned rivalry match stretched all the way to five sets. After handling the first set, 25-15, FSU dropped the next two sets (25-20, 25-22) before rallying to force a fifth, 25-22. In crunch time, FSU pulled away in the middle of the set and took the match 15-9. Prior the postseason win at Florida, FSU’s win over Michigan had been the highest-ranked win in program history.
Facing a 2-0 deficit at the break, the Seminoles rallied to win three-straight sets early in the year to top the seventh-ranked Wolverines. Nicole and Elise Walch each contributed 22 kills, becoming the first tandem to score 20 plus kills in a match since Makini Thompson (24) and Mirja Djuric (24) did the feat on Nov. 3, 2007 against Duke.
In order to gain control of the conference around the halfway mark in ACC play, the Seminoles knew that opportunities to do so did not come very often. Florida State used their home court advantage and the block to defeat the Tar Heels in a five-set match, 3-2.
In that contest, the Seminoles had one of the best blocking performances on the year with 28 team blocks – the best under Coach Poole. Redshirts freshman middle blocker Sarah Burrington turned in her best with 14 total blocks, while Neff added 12 of her own.
Nicole Walch led the attack with 20 kills and eight digs, while hitting for .457 percent. For her efforts, she was awarded her first career, ACC Player of the Week honor.
The 2013 season to this point was a story of ups and downs, however Florida State proved those lulls were over in the sweep over the Blue Devils. With conference season winding down, this match was the final ranked opponent the Seminoles would face before the NCAA Tournament.
In the contest, the Walch sisters were tough to defend as Nicole hit .476 on 100 kills, while Elise contributed another efficient effort, hitting for .600 on 10 kills. For the second time this season, Nicole was awarded the ACC Player of the Week following the weekend.
Florida State had three players earn AVCA All-America Honorable Mention accolades at the end of the season. Earning her third nod, Ashley Neff became the only Seminole in FSU history to earn any All-America honors three times. Nicole and Elise Walch all received their first career accolades.
In addition, all three ladies earned AVCA All-Region honors.
For the first time in school history, the Seminoles placed four members on the All-ACC Team. Senior Ashley Neff became earned First Team honors for the third-consecutive season while becoming the only player in ACC history to lead the league for three-straight seasons in blocks per set.
Several milestones were met during the 2013 season. First, Coach Poole earned his 700th career victory during the regular season against Notre Dame. Now with 706 career victories, coach Poole remains in 10th place on the All-Time Wins list among active coaches.
Ashley Neff closed out her Seminole career with a total of 612 total blocks, climbing to third place on the FSU All-Time blocks list.
Katie Mosher continued to climb up the FSU All-Time Digs list after amassing 506 digs in 2013, she now moves into third place with a total of 1,615. Mosher returns for one final season, needing 245 more digs to become the all-time leader in the category.
In addition to Mosher, Florida State returns Sarah Burrington, Nicole Walch and Sarah Wickstrom from the starting lineup. Olivera Medic, Elise Walch and Ashley Neff have all graduated and will be replaced in the starting lineup for 2014.