Aug. 20, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Senior outside hitter Jekaterina Stepanova and freshman setter Sarah Wickstrom enjoyed standout performances as the garnet squad defeated team gold in five of six sets (11-25, 25-11, 25-19, 15-11, 20-12) on Saturday afternoon at the annual Garnet-Gold scrimmage at Tully Gym.
Stepanova’s strong play toward the end of the 2010 season carried over to today’s scrimmage, as she recorded a match-high 17 kills on 32 attacks for a .438 hitting percentage for the gold squad. She added four service aces to her solid offensive output.
The Riga, Latvia native returns as one of the Seminoles’ prime hitters for the upcoming season.
Wickstrom’s unofficial debut in a Seminole uniform resulted in a match-high 28 assists and six service aces for the garnet team. The Stuart, Fla., native was recruited to FSU as one of the nation’s top setters out of high school and worked extremely well with her attackers this afternoon.
“Sarah has been good for us so far during preseason camp, and she stood out well today,” head coach Chris Poole said. “She is contending with our other setters for playing time and we knew how good of a player she could be out of high school. Today was certainly encouraging for her.”
Two-time American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American Visnja Djurdjevic displayed her usual form, recording 16 kills on a .244 hitting percentage and adding 11 digs and five service aces for team garnet. Sophomore middle blocker Ashley Neff anchored the front line with 10 kills in 16 attacks and eight blocks for the gold.
“I was pleased with Visnja, Kate (Jekaterina) and Rachael (Morgan) today,” Poole added. “They were real leaders and took some good swings and did a lot of nice things. We’re going to depending on all three of them this year.”
Junior middle blocker Sareea Freeman also added eight blocks for the gold team, who quickly rebounded from a tough start. After the garnet squad raced to a 25-11 win in the first set, the gold responded with 14 kills and a .333 team hitting percentage in set No. 2. The Gold offense became much more fluid in the second and third sets, and peaked with a .368 attack percentage in the fifth set that was only played to 20 points.
Overall, the gold team had a large advantage in total blocks with 16 compared to garnet’s 6.5. Former Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year Brianna Barry registered four blocks for the garnet, including the match’s only solo block. Former player Jenna Romanelli returned with 18 digs, while fellow alumna Sarah Griffin added three kills and five digs.
The Seminoles begin their 2011 campaign with the annual FSU Invitational that begins next Friday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m. at Tully Gym against Kentucky. FSU then faces Albany on Saturday at 11:30 a.m., followed by a match later in the evening at 7 p.m. versus No. 23 Tulsa.
Friday night’s match against the Wildcats will be the season debut of the student section “Poole and the Gang,” as all students are encouraged to come to the match early and get a free T-shirt to wear all season long. For more information, please email Jslaton@fsu.edu.