LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Florida State volleyball team (16-8, 12-2 ACC) finally got what it has been looking for since the 2016 NCAA Tournament – a victory over an AVCA Top-25 program. After dominating the first two sets against the No. 24 Cardinals on Sunday, FSU was able to stay ahead and take down Louisville in four sets to close out a challenging road trip.
“I’m so proud of these young ladies,” said head coach Chris Poole. “They have continued to work hard and have improved as the season progresses.”
With the Cardinals, the Seminoles and the Fighting Irish sitting in the top 50 in the RPI, Florida State’s chances for its tenth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance are still high after FSU took down both of them on the road.
“There was a lot of disappointment in letting Miami come back on us on our last road trip after being in control of the match,” Poole said. “This is one of the tougher road trips and it was a total team effort to fight through both matches.”
FSU keeps its hopes of an ACC Championship alive with Sunday’s win, as the Seminoles now take second place behind No. 10 Pitt. By winning out the season and defeating the Panthers in Tallahassee next week, the Seminoles have a shot at either an outright or co-championship.
Florida State has taken on six ranked opponents this season, three of which were ranked in the AVCA Top-10. Despite being outhit by ranked teams, the Seminoles have earned more blocks than their opponents in those ranked matches, picking up a combined 63 total blocks (14 solo). Their ranked opponents have earned a combined 58 total blocks (11 solo) for 2.4 blocks per set (FSU has 2.6).
Of the eight sets the Seminoles saw this weekend, six of them were finished off with a kill from junior outside hitter Payton Caffrey. With her season-high 28 kills against the Cardinals, Caffrey finished the weekend with 52 kills (good for 6.5 kills per set).
A quieter force on the net, sophomore middle blocker Taryn Knuth also had an impressive weekend. The Johnston, Iowa native saw 20 total blocks (four solo), good for 2.50 blocks per set. On offense, Knuth saw 18 kills on 49 attacks for a .204 hitting percentage.
Redshirt senior Ashley Murray led both teams in hitting percentage (with 10 or more attacks) on Sunday, hitting .462 with seven kills.
In the back row, senior libero Kelsey Wicinski saw her seventh 20-dig outing of the season, supporting the offense with a match-leading 21 digs. As the only Seminole with double-digit digs, Wicinski also saw her 19th match with 10+ digs, and fourth in a row.
The Seminoles close out their home slate next week, hosting Notre Dame on Sunday, Nov. 11 and Pitt on Friday, Nov. 16. Sunday’s match against the Fighting Irish will be the team’s military appreciation game, while Friday’s top-25 matchup against the Panthers will be Senior Day.
Set 1 – FSU 27, UL 25
After jumping out to an early start, the Seminoles were able to hold the lead with a strong offensive presence on the outside. A more consistent attack held the Seminoles in the lead, but FSU’s defense couldn’t keep up with the Cardinals’ front line, helping Louisville tie up the set at the 12-all mark.
From there, the set saw six more tied scores, but neither team was able to gain more than a one-point lead until Tiana Jackson’s first kill of the match gave FSU a 20-18 lead. The Cardinals continued to use a tough offensive effort to hold the Seminoles down, holding FSU at set point to earn their own at 25-24. Caffrey went on a run at the end, picking up three straight kills to finish off the set and give FSU a 1-0 lead in the match.
Set 2 – FSU 25, UL 16
The Seminoles used their momentum from the first and brought it into the second, starting off on a 4-0 run before and unforced error handed over the ball. FSU held the lead throughout the set, but surrendered points with their own errors in the first half.
Holding the Cardinals to just .172 hitting, Florida State’s consistent defense was able to set up the Seminoles’ offense for 14 kills in the set. A 4-0 run from FSU put the Seminoles just two points away from taking the set and for the fifth time over the weekend, FSU finished off another set with a kill on the outside from Caffrey.
Set 3 – UL 25, FSU 21
Florida State’s first four points in the set came from kills on the outside from Ambrose and Caffrey, helping FSU come back and close Louisville’s early set lead. While Louisville’s defense struggled to hold off FSU’s offense, it was the Cardinals’ tough offense on the outside and a number of errors from Florida State that kept Louisville in the lead throughout the set.
After the Cardinals reached set point at 24-17, FSU went on a 3-0 run to reach 20 points and sent Louisville into a timeout. Another kill from Caffrey brought UL’s lead to 24-21, but a final kill from the Cardinals closed FSU’s lead in the match to 2-1.
Set 4 – FSU 25, UL 23
The Seminoles took the lead early in the fourth set, starting it off with Ambrose’s ninth kill of the match and an ace from Taylor Roberts. A consistent attack highlighted the beginning of the set for the Seminoles, but giving the ball to the Cardinals more often gave UL more chances of running plays that earned points.
FSU was able to regain the lead at the 15-14 mark, a lead the Seminoles held throughout the set. After Florida State’s timeout at their 22-19 lead, both teams went 3-3 to close out the match, with Caffrey once again punctuating the final set with a kill from the outside.
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