TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – Wednesday night was a fitting night for the Florida State Volleyball Team.
In a match that was dedicated to Seminole legend Brianna Barry, and with several pre-match tributes inspiring the crowd, the Seminoles (7-2) channeled that energy and gave their most impressive performance of the season in defeating No. 14 Florida, 3-1 (24-26, 25-15, 25-19, 25-20), behind a raucous capacity crowd at Tully Gym.
“Bri would be smiling from Heaven right now. I assure you,” FSU Head Coach Chris Poole said. “There’s nothing more she would have been happier about. The players played inspired. They played hard. I felt the first game we had control for most of it and just let go at the very end. So when they got back over between one and two, we said ‘You just have to be consistent. You have to finish the game.’ They did that the other three (games). They played great. I’m really proud of them.”
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Florida State’s victory snaps a four-match losing streak to the Gators (4-4). It also marks the 27th Top 15 program win in school history, with the last one coming just last season when FSU defeated No. 14 Notre Dame, 3-2, at Tully Gym.
Barry was the focal point of the evening, with several family and friends in town and a full gym to honor her tremendous life. A 2 ½ minute video tribute began the night, followed by a “donut toast” to honor her favorite sweet treat.
From there, two banners were revealed to retire her jersey as well as induct her into the FSU Athletics Hall of Fame. Her family was honored on the court with a framed jersey and medallion.
Redshirt junior outside hitter Morgan Chacon was one of the stars of the match for FSU, recording her third double-double in the last four matches with 14 kills and 14 digs. She kept UF off-balanced throughout the night, and defensively she contributed to Florida hitting just .239.
The emotions of a rivalry match #DonutsForBri | #URStrong pic.twitter.com/ZLUx50EdCI
— FSU Volleyball (@FSU_Volleyball) September 16, 2021
“I know all of us feel like Bri’s energy was with us tonight,” Chacon said. “The fire and the passion that I saw in all my teammates and what I had myself, I feel like her energy was here with us and it made the win even more special.”
Freshman middle blocker Khori Louis was hard to stop and proved to be a mismatch. The Tallahassee native had 12 kills in 20 swings with just two attack errors, hitting .500. Against both Southeastern Conference schools this season in UF and Georgia, Louis has hit .500 against each of them.
FSU is also 2-0 vs. those two SEC schools this year.
Junior middle blocker Emma Clothier had another strong match, recording nine kills, hitting .300, adding four blocks and getting two service aces. The Carrollton, Texas, native has been tough up front but is becoming one of the top servers in the ACC.
Freshman outside hitter Audrey Koenig added 10 kills, while fellow freshman Emery Dupes led FSU with 17 digs. Redshirt junior setter Lily Tessier had 42 assists along with six digs.
Freshman Skye Ekes was a big contributor as well, recording four kills and adding three blocks in the big win.
After controlling most of the match and coming back from a smaller deficit in the fourth set, Poole was impressed by his team’s maturity despite being so young.
“It’s going to be something they can draw back on,” Poole added. “We hadn’t beaten Florida in four years. We beat them in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016, but we hadn’t the last four years, so it was good to get out and take a young team. Basically, we’re starting over again because we had such a large senior group graduate last year. It’s a very young group, and I think they’re going to get better as the season progresses.”
FSU returns to the hardwood when it faces Notre Dame on the road on Friday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. on ACC Network Extra.