Oct. 18, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The 19th-ranked Florida State indoor volleyball team prepares for another important conference road match as it travels to South Bend, Ind., to face league newcomer Notre Dame on Sunday, Oct. 20, at 1 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.
The match, which originally was scheduled to stream on ESPN3, can now be accessed via Notre Dame's video feed for free on und.com as well as through live stats on CBS GameTracker. The Seminoles (13-5, 6-1) and the Irish (7-10, 1-5) have a relatively short series history that is tied at 2-2. The last meeting came in head coach Chris Poole's second season at FSU in 2009, a five-set victory for Florida State.
"I think anytime you go on the road in the ACC you are always challenged," Poole said. "This is a trip we haven't made before. In my 30 years I've never played at Notre Dame before. It's a different team and style to what we are used to seeing. Our team knows Notre Dame certainly has a storied program and a storied athletic tradition, and they've got good players. It will certainly be a test for us."
With ACC play more than one-third of the way through, the Seminoles are in familiar position. Following a key win over Miami on Wednesday, Florida State finds itself in a two-way tie atop the conference standings with the Hurricanes. Both teams have played one more match than second-place North Carolina (5-1), Duke (5-1) and NC State (5-1), whom will catch up with Friday matches this weekend.
The right-side hitting attack of senior Elise Walch (17 kills, .448) and freshman Izzy Carmona (15 kills, .500) powered the `Noles past the Hurricanes on Wednesday evening. Sophomore outside hitter Nicole Walch also played a big role in the win, delivering 14 kills and a .387 hitting mark.
Senior middle blocker Ashley Neff, who had nine blocks against Miami, continues to distinguish herself among many of the nation's best. The Kennesaw, Ga., native is one of just six players in the country to rank in the Top 20 in both blocks per set and hitting percentage. Of those six players, only Neff, Stanford middle blocker Carly Wopat and Oklahoma middle blocker Sallie McLaurin lead their respective conferences in both categories as well.
Florida State is 5-3 on the road this season, having been used to the travel following their recent nine-match trip away from Tallahassee that lasted just over a month. The `Noles have allowed opponents to hit .211 in road matches this season, while Nicole Walch has averaged 4.03 kills per set in matches away from home. Redshirt freshman middle blocker Sarah Burrington has put up strong blocking numbers on the road, averaging 1.37 per set.
Notre Dame's lone ACC victory came on the road in its last match at Georgia Tech last Saturday. The Irish defeated the Yellow Jackets 3-0 (25-20, 26-24, 25-23). Junior outside hitter Toni Alugbue was Notre Dame's offensive catalyst with 10 kills and a .381 hitting percentage, and also added 10 digs to mark a double-double.
For the season, Alugbue has a team-leading 203 kills and averages 3.08 kills per set. Junior Jeni Houser has been a consistent force with a .317 hitting clip and 2.63 kills per set. Houser also averages just under one block per set.
Sunday's match at Notre Dame will be the Irish's Block Out Cancer match, where Pink t-shirts will be sold to help benefit breast cancer awareness. The Irish start its weekend facing Miami on Friday evening at 7 p.m. at home.
Following the Sunday trip, the `Noles head back on the road next weekend as they battle Duke on Friday, Oct. 25, at 6:30 p.m., followed by another 6:30 p.m. first serve on Saturday at Wake Forest.
Follow Florida State indoor volleyball on Seminoles.com as well as on the team's official Twitter (@FSU_Volleyball) and Facebook pages (Facebook.com/FSUVolleyball).