September 27, 2014 - by
Noles Sweep Heels

Box Score • ESPN3 Replay

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –  ( – In front of another standing-room only crowd at Tully Gym, the sixth-ranked Florida State (12-0, 1-0) indoor volleyball team defeated No. 12 North Carolina (9-2, 0-1) in straight sets (25-22, 25-22, 32-30) in the highest matchup in ACC history.

The Seminoles extended their conference home match winning streak to 29 following the ACC opener on Friday.

“All three sets were tight and competitive,” FSU head coach Chris Poole said. “We knew North Carolina wouldn’t give up. They’re a very good team and we knew physically they could match us at the net. It was a matter of who was going to make the plays when they needed to.”

Junior outside hitter Nicole Walch led the attack and posted a double-double with 16 kills and 14 digs.

As a team the Seminoles put up 14 total blocks for the second time this season in a three-set match. The Noles registered eight blocks alone in the third set, including three solo from junior middle blocker Kiara Wright. She also finished the match with three block assists.

In addition to Wright, redshirt sophomore Sarah Burrington had six block assists and one solo stop.

“We’re working a lot on blocking right now,” Poole said. “With so many new hitters, we’re trying to get them all in sync and I would like to see that aspect of our game to continue to get better. But they stepped up at crucial times in that match.”

Senior setter Sarah Wickstrom put up a double-double with 24 assists and 10 digs, while sophomore setter Hailey Luke had 11 assists. Luke also scored a pair of setting dumps and sparked several runs on serve.

Redshirt senior Katie Mosher led the defense with 19 digs.

Florida State broke open a six-point lead, 21-15 after the media timeout. North Carolina grabbed the next two points to pull within four 21-17 before junior outside hitter Karlie Hauer swung for a kill from the left side. The Tar Heels would side out, however a pair of kills from Burrington and Walch gave the Noles set point up 24-18.

North Carolina showed fight down the stretch, fending off five set points before Wickstrom set Burrington perfectly for the kill down the middle and the 25-22, 1-0 lead.

In the second, the Seminoles fell into a five-point hole early, however the Noles were back in it after a kill by Hauer and four straight Tar Heel errors, tying the score 19-19 forcing UNC to call a timeout.

After the break, Luke delivered an ace for the first lead of the set at 20-19.  

Following a pair of ties at 20 and 21, Florida State took the 22-21 lead after a ball handling error on the Tar Heels, which was forced by a big swing from sophomore outside hitter Katie Horton. Burrington and junior middle blocker Mercedes Vaughn teamed up for a block to tee up set point.

FSU went up 2-0 after taking the 25-22 second set victory on a North Carolina attacking error.

“I’m very proud of our team,” Mosher said. “Especially in the second set, we were down by five points at one time and we never gave up. We never felt like we were going to lose and I think that helps us. We never have a doubt in our minds.”

The Seminoles came out with a commanding 9-4 lead with solid production on the block in the third, before the Tar Heels put together a 5-1 run forcing FSU to call timeout up 10-9.  Out of the break, Horton’s attack was just wide knotting the set at 10.

Mosher locked in on defense and fueled a 5-2 run to go up 15-12 before North Carolina earned the side out. FSU kept a short distance from the Tar Heels before a kill from Burrington set up match point up 24-21.

“Those battle plays you can’t really imitate in practice,” Mosher said. “You don’t know how those are going to turn out, you just have to stay in the moment and fight it out and we did that tonight.”

Facing match point, the Tar Heels found a way to side out before the libero Ece Taner helped start of 3-0 scamper on serve to tie it at 24.  Coach Poole called timeout to settle his team.

Out of the break, FSU stood tall for a block from Walch before North Carolina evened it once again before pulling ahead for set point. The Noles answered with Walch to tie at 26 but the Heels responded with a kill of its own for the advantage.

Fighting back was Wright with a kill for another tie, but North Carolina pulled ahead for the third time after a kill.  On the next play, Mosher sent a pass for Vaughn to put away for another tie, 28-28.

North Carolina refused to quit, finding Leigh Andrew for a kill and the lead, but Walch delivered the kill for another stalemate.

Florida State held match point again up 30-29 after the Heels were called for a blocking error, but a service error from Wickstrom tied it once more 30-30. Feeling the pressure, the North Carolina committed a service error giving the advantage back to the Noles.

With the third match point of the night, the Seminoles battled to keep the ball alive with Walch stretching to put the ball over the net and into an open spot on the floor, lifting the Noles past the Heels, 32-30 for the sweep.

“We were making those big plays throughout the match,” Poole said. “We were making them all the way until the last point. We had a great save to keep it in and it ended up being the winning point for us. Sometimes that’s the difference and when two great teams play each other that could be the difference.”

Florida State will play Notre Dame at home at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The match can be seen on Noles TV.

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