Aug. 25, 2011
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The 2011 Florida State indoor volleyball season kicks off with the 10th annual Florida State Invitational against three quality opponents at Tully Gym. The Seminoles begin the year against non-conference rival Kentucky on Friday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m. in a match that will air on Seminoles.com All-Access. Scott Kotick and Seminole great Brianna Barry will be on the call.
Following the Kentucky match, FSU battles Albany on Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m., then takes on 23rd-ranked Tulsa on Saturday evening at 7 p.m.
Overall, FSU leads its overall series against Kentucky 6-5. The last two matches have occurred in 2009 and 2010 with both being five-set thrillers won by the Seminoles. In 2009, FSU defeated Kentucky in the Sweet 16 in Minneapolis, Minn., to advance to the Elite Eight.
Saturday will be FSU’s first-ever matchup against Tulsa. The Seminoles defeated Albany in 2009.
Looking for a Three-Peat
The 2010 season was highlighted by the Seminole volleyball team making its second consecutive NCAA postseason appearance, the first time FSU has accomplished such a feat since the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
The 2011 edition hopes to add to its NCAA Tournament streak and make a return trip. The possible three-peat would mark the first time FSU has gone onto NCAA postseason play for three straight years since 1987-90 as members of the Metro Conference. FSU has never had an NCAA Tournament three-peat since joining the ACC in 1991.
Poole Enters Year No. 25
Florida State fourth-year head coach Chris Poole will embark on his 25th season as a head coach at the Division I level. Not included in his coaching career totals are three seasons at Arkansas Tech from 1983-85, where he helped lead his respective squad to a 92-16 record.
Going into the 2011 season, Poole is neck and neck with several other coaches in various NCAA stat categories. Among the winningest active Division I coaches, Poole is tied with fellow ACC coach Joe Sagula of North Carolina for 12th on the list with 624 career wins.
In terms of winningest active coaches at all division levels, Poole is also tied with Sagula for 21st on the list. He enters the upcoming season with a tremendous winning percentage of .712, the 22nd-highest among active Division I coaches. That mark also places him at 25th among all-time Division I coaches.
The final stat is sentimental for Seminole fans. Poole’s 624 career victories, all at the Division I level, are 11 shy of tying FSU coaching legend Cecile Reynaud. Reynaud coached the Seminoles from 1976-2001, a span of 26 seasons that resulted in 635 career victories.
The Outside Hitters
Dissecting each position of the 2011 Seminoles, it is apparent that this season’s group of outside hitters is one of the team’s strong points. Six student-athletes will vie for court time, led by two-time American Volleyball Coaches Association Honorable Mention All-American Visnja Djurdjevic. The senior Serbian led FSU in an array of hitting categories last year, including kills and kills per set.
Two key pieces to last year’s hitting attack return in seniors Rachael Morgan and Jekaterina Stepanova. Morgan is the lone senior of four who will have competed at FSU in all four seasons, and looks to regain her 2009 All-America form after missing part of last year with a stress fracture. Stepanova displayed her hard-hitting talents last season, finishing second on the team with 2.60 kills per set.
Junior Fatma Yildirim was an All-ACC freshman in 2009, and is known as one of FSU’s hardest hitters. Her play on the left side will go a long way toward the Seminole offensive goals for the season. Joining her as the final returnee is junior Marija Milosavljevic, who also figures to earn time at middle blocker as she did in 2010.
A possible X-factor this season includes Wisconsin transfer Elise Walch, a sophomore from Stuart, Fla. who posted 10 double-digit kill performances last year as a Badger. Her presence should be another welcoming sign for a team that has a deep and potent group of hitters.
FSU returns two strong setters from 2010 in junior Duygu Duzceler and senior Patricia Figueiredo. Adding depth to the group is freshman Sarah Wickstrom, a 5-foot-11 standout from Jensen Beach High School in Stuart, Fla.
Duzceler brings valuable experience from the Elite Eight season in 2009 that highlighted her freshman year, playing in 127 sets. Last year, she started all 33 matches and split time with Figueiredo as each played 130 sets.
Figueiredo, who hails from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, improved significantly as last year progressed. She finished behind Duzceler with 619 assists, and had some of her finest performances in the NCAA Championship when she tallied a double-double against Georgia Southern (16 assists, 12 digs) and recorded 25 assists against Florida.
Wickstrom will look to earn some time on the floor as well, She was a PrepVolleyball Senior Ace and a PrepVolleyball All-American who will try to adapt to the college game quickly and give the Seminoles three tremendous options.
Fans can read more FSU volleyball facts in this weekend’s Match Notes