CLEMSON, S.C. – (Seminoles.com) The third-ranked Florida State (23-0, 11-0) indoor volleyball team fought back to outlast Clemson (16-9, 4-7) in five sets (22-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-18, 15-12) to remain unbeaten.
“We feel very blessed to be undefeated,” FSU head coach Chris Poole said. “Today, we had a lot of good individual performances, but we need to play more consistent.”
In their seventh five-set this season, the Seminoles jumped in front after junior middle blocker Kiara Wright put away a shot for the 7-4 lead causing the Tigers to call timeout.
Off the break, Clemson earned the side out but Wright delivered another kill to give FSU the 8-5 lead at the switch.
Sophomore outside hitter Katie Horton put away a shot before she teamed up with redshirt sophomore middle blocker Sarah Burrington for a block and the 10-6 lead, forcing the Tigers to use their final timeout.
Clemson responded with back-to-back kills, cutting the lead to two before Poole used a timeout up 10-8.
The Seminoles answered with kills from Burrington and Walch before the Tigers got the ball back after a kill. Florida State would use its final timeout up 12-10 after Clemson delivered an ace.
FSU went to freshman right side hitter Milica Kubura for the kill and a three-point edge before Clemson sided out with a kill, but senior setter Sarah Wickstrom connected with Wright to set up match point, 14-11.
Clemson fought it off but junior outside hitter Nicole Walch was too tough and put away a shot for the 15-12, fifth set victory.
Walch finished the match with her 12th double-double of the year, setting a new career high for kills at 25, hitting for .392 while contributing 18 digs. In addition, Walch added five aces, which is another career best.
Redshirt junior Mercedes Vaughn also had a career day with 15 kills for .345 percent, adding three blocks.
Kubura added 11 kills to the offense, hitting for .364 percent.
The Seminoles tallied nine total blocks with Wright leading with five block assists and one solo stop.
Wickstrom returned to the lineup and produced 32 assists while sophomore setter Hailey Luke registered her fifth double-double with 31 assists and 14 digs.
Redshirt senior libero Katie Mosher was under 19 digs.
“We had some great individual performances today,” Poole said. “But we weren’t as good on defense and with our blocking. Clemson played great and we have to remember that everyone we play has nothing to lose.”
After 12 ties in the first set, Vaughn put away a shot from Luke before Walch delivered an ace for the 17-15 advantage and Clemson decided to call its first timeout.
Vaughn swatted two more kills helping the Seminoles side out each time before Horton put down a shot for the 20-17 lead forcing the Tigers into another timeout.
Off the break, the Tigers put up a quick 4-1 rally to tie the set 21-21 causing Poole to burn his final timeout.
Clemson kept up the streak adding three more points for set point 24-21. Burrington and Wright fended it off with a block but the Tigers put down a kill to take the first set, 25-22 leaving the Seminoles behind 0-1 for the ninth time in 2014.
In the second, the Seminoles got out to a 10-4 lead with Walch on serve who produced three aces over the 6-0 run.
Florida State held a five-point lead, but a 4-0 rally from the Tigers cut the lead to 13-12 and Poole would use his first timeout.
The teams would trade side outs off the break before Clemson tied it at 14 with a kill. The Tigers would take a two-point advantage after the 16-16 stalemate and again, Poole would call timeout.
FSU quickly erased the deficit with three straight kills from Walch, Vaughn and Horton for the 19-18 lead, forcing Clemson to use its final timeout.
Following the break, Walch put down a kill that sparked a 5-1 run to capture set point, however Clemson answered with a 3-0 stretch cutting the lead 24-22. The Seminoles put away the second set after Luke set Horton for the kill and 25-22 victory and 1-1 tie.
Clemson jumped out to a five point lead in the third, however the Seminoles forced the Tigers to make several errors pulling within one 11-10. Clemson ended the 5-0 run with a kill, but FSU would take over the 13-12 lead after kills from Wright and Vaughn on top of a ball handing error called on the Tigers.
The score would be tied at 14 and 15 before the Tigers moved ahead after an ace forcing Poole to call timeout.
Off the break, the teams traded side outs before the Tigers went up by two 19-17 after a block, but Kubura slammed a kill before Walch put down back-to-back chances for the 20-19 lead. Clemson used its final timeout.
After, Clemson sparked a 5-0 run for set point at 24-20. The Seminoles fought one off with a kill from Walch but the Tigers were able to side out and take the third 25-21, leaving the Seminoles behind 2-1.
In the fourth, the Seminoles broke open a three-point advantage early up 9-6 before the Tigers called timeout. FSU extended its lead to six outscoring Clemson 8-5, 17-11 after Walch delivered her fifth ace of the match and the Tigers would use their final timeout.
Both teams traded errors and Clemson put away a shot and Poole would use a timeout up 18-13.
The Seminoles kept their distance and closed out the fourth 25-18, forcing a fifth set.
Florida State hung on to defeat Clemson, 3-2 following a 15-12 fifth set win.
“We are struggling at times,” Poole said. “We still need to get better and reduce our unforced errors. We are pushing to make that improvement and we’ll get back to it in practice this week.”
The Seminoles will return home for a match and host Virginia at 7 p.m. on Friday before heading back on the road the following weekend.
Mosher was named a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award. Fans can vote once per day until Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. The winner will be chosen at the Final Four in December.
For more information on FSU volleyball, visit Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.