Aug. 27, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State University women’s volleyball team opened its highly-hyped season on Friday night with a resounding 3-1 (25-16, 26-28, 25-16, 25-10) victory over New Mexico State at the Florida State Invitational in Tully Gym.
The Aggies (1-1), who defeated FIU in the opening matchup of the tournament, were done in by the play of outside hitters Visnja Djurdjevic and Stephanie Neville. Djurdjevic, the reigning Conference USA Co-Player of the Year, led all players with 17 kills and recorded 12 digs in a tremendous all-around performance.
This is the Visnja we saw for two weeks in the preseason,” coach Chris Poole said. “We all know what she is capable of doing. She’s a very intense player in practice and has excellent leadership qualities. She showed what kind of player she is tonight.
Djurdjevic, who hails from Zitiste, Serbia, finished with a .455 hitting percentage as well as a game-high 21 points. Neville also had several high-powered strikes tonight, recording 13 kills compared to just two attack errors for a .478 percentage.
Senior libero Jenna Romanelli had a match-high 16 digs and four assists, using her lateral quickness across the court to keep balls alive. Sophomore setter Duygu Duzceler continued to put her teammates in solid position for kills, amassing 30 assists. Junior setter Patricia Figueiredo added 20 assists in four sets.
Competing in her first match since the 2008 season, senior middle blocker Lauren Young was effective at the net, recording a game-high five blocks. The Ben Wheeler, Texas, native also added five kills in a stellar comeback performance. Junior Rachael Morgan played as a right-side hitter for the first time in her career, and finished with 14 points.
Even though she is a two-year starter, Rachael was a good surprise, Poole said. She had never played the right side before. I’m extremely proud of her and if she continues to play well there, it bodes very well for our team.
The Seminoles (1-0) were dominant in the first set, which was highlighted by seven unanswered points to give FSU an early 13-6 advantage. During the key stretch, sophomore middle blocker Marija Milosavljevic recorded two kills and an assisted block. The Serbia native finished with seven kills and four blocks.
FSU was somewhat stunned in the second set after leading 24-21 with the set point within its grasp. New Mexico State’s Jennah DeVries finished off the rally with a service ace to tie the match at 1-1.
That second set taught us that we certainly needed to respect the opponent,” Poole added. “It was a great lesson for us I wanted to see how we would respond. I truly believe that something like that is the greatest thing to happen to a team early in the season, and we came back in games three and four.”
Over the next two sets, FSU responded in authoritative fashion. The Seminoles jumped out to an 11-3 lead on a block assist from both Milosavljevic and Neville, then reached a 15-7 margin on blocks by Young and sophomore outside hitter Fatma Yildirim. The set culminated with a kill by Milosavljevic to put the Seminoles ahead, 2-1.
Another kill by Neville in the fourth set put the Seminoles ahead 6-1, and the Garnet and Gold never looked back. Consecutive kills by Djurdjevic and Jekaterina Stepanova expanded the lead to 24-9 before a service error by NMSU’s Amanda Tonga ended the match.
The Seminoles have now won eight-straight season-openers. FSU continues with matchups on Saturday against FIU at noon, followed by a contest against USF at 7 p.m. that can be seen on Seminoles.com All-Access.