TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After spending 10 of the first 12 days of the season on the road, the Florida State volleyball team is eager to host its first non-conference event this weekend. The Seminoles will host VCU, Southern Miss and Florida A&M in the Home2 Suites by Hilton Tallahassee Seminole Invitational on Friday and Saturday (Sept. 7-8).
“It’s great to be back at home,” said head coach Chris Poole. “Not just because you don’t have to travel, which again, that was a lot of travel we had to do, but because it allows our fans to get in the stands and get behind us. We had some great crowds to play in front of the last two weekends, so we’re hoping we can also bring out a great crowd at home to watch us play.”
The Seminoles will play two matches at Tully Gym this weekend, with the remaining four matches held at FAMU’s Al Lawson Center. FSU will host both out-of-town teams on its home court, and will face the Rattlers on their campus on Saturday night.
Coach Poole expects tough competition in Tallahassee this weekend. The VCU Rams were chosen as the unanimous favorite to repeat as the Atlantic 10 conference champions this year, while the Golden Eagles statistically have some of the best players in the country.
“Southern Miss is going to finish high in their conference, VCU is supposed to win their conference, so we expect both teams to be very strong, and FAMU is always at the top of their conference, so I’m expecting a great weekend of play.”
After starting off her career at Florida State strong, junior outside hitter Payton Caffrey looks forward to seeing the Tully Gym atmosphere that drew her to Florida State.
“With it being my first fall here I’m really excited to see the atmosphere at Tully,” Caffrey said. “I’m excited to be able to compete in front of our fans, and just being home will be great.”
FSU will see the VCU Rams in Friday night’s home opener. The match marks the first of 19 this season that will be streamed live on ACC Network Extra.
FSU vs. VCU
VCU was chosen as the unanimous favorite to repeat as Atlantic 10 conference champions again this year. The Rams have already seen two ACC teams this season, falling in five sets to NC State and in three to Pitt. The Rams were also swept by FSU’s NCAA Tournament First Round Opponent, Washington State, at the NC State Invitational.
The Rams are led by junior Vicky Giommarini in the front row, as she leads the team in kills (76), kills per set (2.62), total attacks (253) and is tied with a team-high eight service aces. The defensive effort is led by junior Jasmin Sneed, who has 45 total blocks already this season (eight solo) and junior Madalon Simpson who has tallied 88 digs through only seven matches.
The two teams have only met once, when the Seminoles beat the Rams at the Kentucky Invitational in Lexington. FSU swept the tournament, defeating Kansas State and Kentucky along with the four-set win over VCU.
FSU vs. USM
Southern Miss heads into the tournament as the only team with a winning record (5-2), with its only two losses coming to Power Five programs Ohio State and Ole Miss. The Golden Eagles have seen four straight 20+ win seasons, and was picked to finish fifth in the Conference USA this season.
Senior Kylie Grandy leads the team with 121 kills (4.17 per set) this season, and has added on 10 aces and 10 total blocks through only seven matches. Defensively, Alexis Coombs leads the pack with 35 total blocks (13 solo), while Madison Lawler has held down the back row with 102 digs (3.40 per set).
In the series between the two teams, the Seminoles have not allowed the Eagles to win a single set in the 15-match series. FSU has swept USM all 15 times, with seven of those wins coming in Tallahassee.
FSU vs. FAMU
The Rattlers come into this tournament without a win yet this season, but the team has also been on the road for the last two weeks. FAMU has taken two of its opponents – Central Arkansas and UT Martin – to five sets, while it has been swept three times, most recently to Mercer.
Florida A&M is led offensively by Maria Yvett Garcia, who tallied her 100th kill of the season on Tuesday at Mercer. Defensively the Rattlers are led by Aybuke Kocabiyik (36 kills, seven solo) and Valentina Carrasco (140 digs) and Jessa Long (111 digs) in the back row.
Gokhan Yilmaz was promoted to FAMU’s head coach just prior to this season. Yilmaz previously worked under Poole as FSU’s Associate Head Coach from 2008-14. With the Seminoles, Yilmaz saw five NCAA Tournament appearances and three ACC Championships.
The two teams have seen each other 26 times in the series, with the Rattlers winning only once in 1982. FSU has won the last 23 matches in the series.
Friday, Sept. 7
6:00 pm – FSU vs. VCU (at FSU) – ACC Network Extra
6:00 pm – FAMU vs. Southern Miss (at FAMU)
Saturday, Sept. 8
11:30 am – FSU vs. Southern Miss (at FSU)
11:30 am – FAMU vs. VCU (at FAMU)
4:30 pm – VCU vs. Southern Miss (at FAMU)
7:00 pm – FSU vs. FAMU (at FAMU)
Due to football gameday parking restrictions on September 8, 140 spots will be made available in lot 17 for volleyball spectators only on a first-come-first-serve basis. A map can be found here. The lot will only be available from 10:30 to 1:30, and all cars MUST be moved by 1:30. Spectators can enter the lot on Stadium Drive between 10:30-11:45 am.
For more information visit Facebook (Florida State Seminoles Volleyball), Twitter (FSU_Volleyball) and Instagram (FSUvolleyball).