GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Competing in their longest match of the season, the Seminoles were eliminated from the 2019 NCAA Volleyball Championship as Florida State (19-10) was defeated by RV UCF (25-7) in five sets on Thursday, 19-25, 25-20, 25-20, 18-25, 8-15.
“Certainly, congrats to UCF, they continued to fight, even when we had them down,” said FSU head coach Chris Poole. “Obviously, it is a disappointing loss when you get into the situation of being up 2-1 and unfortunately, we just did not execute overall the way that we needed to. Tonight kind of summed up a lot of our season, that was frustrating at times, because we are a team that can often play really well and then really frustrating in the same match. That inconsistency ended up being the difference between us being able to get the win tonight.”
Senior Payton Caffrey left it all out on the floor in her final match in the Garnet and Gold, leading the team with 25 kills along with 14 digs and three blocks. The 25 kills are tied for third-most by an FSU player in NCAA Tournament history, while her 80 attacks was a career high and also set a school record in the postseason. Freshman Emma Clothier recorded a team-high .429 hitting percentage with 10 kills and just one error, while adding five blocks defensively.
Kills by Clothier and Morgan Chacon tied the first set at 4-4, and a pair of blocks from Caffrey and Clothier kept it square at 10-10. UCF opened a lead of six at 18-12 in the middle of the set, before Taryn Knuth ended the Knight rally with a solo block. The Seminoles used a 4-0 run, including three consecutive kills by Caffrey to cut the UCF lead to three at 17-20, but the Knights closed out the opening set with a 25-19 win.
Consecutive blocks by Clothier and Jessica Nunge helped the Noles post an early 6-3 lead in the second set, while a kill by Caffrey and a pair of UCF service errors put the Seminoles in front, 10-6. The Knights rallied to take their first lead of the set at 12-11, but the Seminoles used a 5-1 scoring run involving a trio of kills from Caffrey to lead 16-13. UCF got within one at 21-20, but the Noles scored the final four points of the set on a pair of kills by Caffrey and a block from Nunge and Knuth to tie the match with a 25-20 win.
Caffrey’s 15th kill of the match opened the third set for Florida State, and an ace from the senior, along with kills by Jasmyn Martin and Clothier gave FSU a 7-2 lead. A service ace by Madison Sullivan helped the Noles lead by nine at 12-3, but UCF rallied to make it a three-point set at 14-11 after an 8-2 scoring run. The Seminoles regained control of the set, scoring five of the next six points on kills by Caffrey and a service ace by Lily Tessier to lead 19-12. UCF got within four at 21-17, but a pair of kills down the stretch by Knuth secured the set for FSU, 25-20.
UCF used an 8-3 scoring run in the early portion of the fourth set to take a 10-5 lead. A kill by Knuth was part of three consecutive points by the Seminoles, but the Knights extended their lead back out to six at 14-8. Kills by Nunge, Clothier and Caffrey got Florida State within three at 17-14, but UCF closed out the set to force a decisive fifth set with a 25-18 win.
The Seminoles jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the fifth set on a pair of kills by Caffrey, but UCF used a 5-1 scoring run to move in front 7-6. A kill by Martin tied it up at 7-7, and the Knights executed well to score eight of the final nine points to secure the match, 15-8.
Long rallies throughout the match resulted in career highs in digs from Taylor Roberts (30), Adrian Ell (25), Chacon (22) and Tessier (14), while Roberts, Ell and Chacon’s totals are third, eighth and 13th in school history in the postseason. Knuth ended with 11 kills at a .370 clip, along with six total blocks.
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