December 8, 2016 - by
Spikers Bound for Wisconsin Regional, Stanford Awaits
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 16th-ranked Florida State volleyball team will make its fifth appearance in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament this weekend when the team heads north to Madison, Wisc. The Seminoles, one of four teams in the Wisconsin Regional along with Ohio State and host Wisconsin, are making final preparations for their first-ever meeting with ninth-ranked Stanford.
Florida State takes to the UW Field House court on Friday, Dec. 9 at 4:30 p.m. (EST), in a match featured on ESPNU and ESPN3, as it looks to reach the Elite Eight for the third time in program history and first time since 2011.
It marks the third head-to-head meeting between Seminole head coach Chris Poole and Stanford’s John Dunning. The two, who rank in the top seven of the winningest active coaches in NCAA Division I, last met on Nov. 27, 1998 when Dunning was coaching Pacific and Poole was at the helm in Arkansas.
“Certainly, we’re excited to be here. We know that Wisconsin is a first class program and university,” said Poole. “We are, obviously, honored to be representing the ACC. We’re here to try to be competitive. We know that every team is strong, every team had a great season, and once you get to this point in the Sweet 16, then you know that every point is going to make a difference, and you’ve got to be able to step up and play. So we’re going to lay it on the line and see what we have to offer.”Florida State (26-5) is riding a season-long eight-match winning streak into the match, which began with a four-set triumph over Boston College (Nov. 11), after posting a series of opening round NCAA Tournament victories last weekend against Cincinnati and Florida in Gainesville. Stanford (23-7) enters the meeting on a six-match winning streak that dates back to a sweep of Arizona State (Nov. 18), posting tournament wins last weekend over Denver and Boise State.

Spikers Bound for Wisconsin Regional, Stanford Awaits
While the Seminoles have never faced Stanford they have played seven teams that currently make up the PAC-12. That includes a series of matches against California (1989), UCLA (2011) and Arizona State (2015) in the NCAA Tournament. Florida State is 1-2 all-time against PAC-12 programs in the postseason, earning their first win a season ago when they downed the Sun Devils in straight sets 25-13, 25-17 and 25-21 in an opening round clash.
Among the statistical leaders for Florida State’s offensive attack include Milica Kubura (365 kills; 2.99 kills/set), Katie Horton (354 kills; 2.90 kills/set) and Mara Green (233 kills; .368 attack percentage). That trio, named AVCA All-East Region on Tuesday, has helped the Seminoles amass 1,587 kills and a .252 attack percentage by virtue of posting at least a .225 hitting percentage in 22 of 31 matches this season.
Another key to the offensive success of the Seminoles has been the setting tandem of Hailey Luke and Brianne Burkert. Luke, the three time senior captain, climbed to third in Florida State history in assists in NCAA Tournament matches (166) after combining for 48 in wins over Cincinnati and Florida last weekend. Burkert, with a team-high 753 assists in 2016, is the eighth Seminole setter in the rally scoring era to have at least 700 in a single season.
The individual defensive leaders for Florida State include Melanie Keil, an honorable mention honoree by the AVCA, who leads the team with 192 total blocks (1.59 blocks/set). Keil was a key cog in the Seminole defensive attack that limited Florida’s attack percentage to .250 or less as Florida State posted the 20thcome-from-behind victory in NCAA Tournament in the rally scoring era. She is joined among the front row blocking leaders by Mara Green, who has tallied 130 blocks (111 assisted blocks).
Cecilie Woie and Horton add depth to the Seminole defense as they have accounted for 49.3 percent of the digs this season. Woie, who leads Florida State with 479 digs, finished with a team-high 19 in the five-set win over archrival Florida. Horton came through with a career-high 26 in the opening round victory against Cincinnati, tying Visnja Djurdjevic for the fourth-most digs in a single match in program history.
Stanford, which finished third in the PAC-12 with a 15-5 conference mark, is led individually by the combination of Kathryn Plummer (371 kills; 3.31 kills/set), Jenna Gray (971 assists; 8.67 assists/set), Morgan Hentz (519 digs; 4.63 digs/set) and Audriana Fitzmorris (162 blocks; 1.45 blocks/set).
The Cardinal are averaging 14.17 kills per set after recording 1,587 strikes in 30 matches this season as five hitters have tallied at least 200 kills this season. The Stanford roster, which consists of 12 players who are at least six feet tall, has limited its opponents to a .178 hitting percentage by recording 374 total blocks (3.34 blocks/set).
A victory by the Seminoles in the Sweet 16 sets up an Elite Eight matchup with the winner of the Ohio State-Wisconsin match that is set for 7 p.m. (EST) on Friday. Florida State has only one previous meeting with the host Badgers, which came in the 2013 NCAA Tournament when the two clashed in the Sweet 16.
It would mark the fifth all-time meeting with Ohio State and fourth in Poole’s nine-year tenure at the helm of the Seminoles. Florida State is 14-10 (.583 winning percentage) against current Big Ten programs under Poole.
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