TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – The Florida State Volleyball Team finally begins its long-awaiting 2020-21 season on Wednesday as it faces 12th-ranked Georgia Tech on the road at 6 p.m. FSU follows with a 4 p.m. tilt vs. the Yellow Jackets on Thursday, with both matches airing on the ACC Network.
The season opener begins a seven-match fall season that will be followed by an NCAA Championship season in the spring 2021, which is expected to include a number of regular-season matches followed by a reduced-sized NCAA Championship in April.
While the start of the year for many teams is a bit odd considering the dragged timeline, head coach Chris Poole feels playing against a quality opponent right off the bat is important in assessing his own squad.
“I don’t really know what to expect,” Poole said. “We need to play someone to know where we are right now and I think that’s the biggest reason for us is at the very least, we will come away this week with some kind of measuring stick to say, ‘Okay this is where we are, now we know what we need to do to start working.”
For the first time since 2016, Florida State returns three All-ACC performers in senior middle blocker Taryn Knuth (2019 First Team, 2019 ACC Defensive Player of the Year), senior outside hitter Jasmyn Martin (Second Team) and sophomore middle blocker Emma Clothier (Freshman Team).
Knuth returns this year as arguably the best middle blocker in the country. The Johnston, Iowa, native joins Martin as FSU’s two preseason All-ACC players, and she is the nation’s active leader with 510 career blocks. Knuth also leads the country with a career average of 1.58 blocks per set.
Florida State returns 14 players from last year’s team that finished 19-10 overall and 12-6 in the ACC. Among the returning category leaders from last season are redshirt sophomore setter Lily Tessier (617 assists in 2019), redshirt junior setter Adrian Ell (23 service aces), redshirt sophomore outside hitter Morgan Chacon (320 digs) and Knuth (160 blocks).
“I think we all feel the same way,” Chacon added. “We realize that there is a very few amount of girls that get to do this. So we’re just excited that we get to play a great team and get such good competition, especially right now. We’re just grateful to be here and grateful to get the opportunity.”
Florida State is 22-31 overall vs. Georgia Tech, but has won seven of the last eight matchups. In last year’s 0-3 loss, current junior libero Taylor Roberts led the Seminoles with 10 digs. Two years ago in a 3-1 win at home vs. GT, Knuth recorded 12 kills and six blocks.
A win over 12th-ranked Georgia Tech (1-1) would mark the 19th time FSU has defeated a Top-12 opponent. It would tie for FSU’s second-highest ranked ACC victory, only eclipsed by a 3-2 win over No. 11 North Carolina in 2002.
Clothier is ready for another big season. In last week’s Garnet-Gold Match, she had a standout performance with 10 kills on 18 swings, recorded a .500 attack percentage and added three blocks and two aces.