LINCOLN, Neb. (Seminoles.com) – In front of a record-setting crowd of 8,854 the 13th-ranked Florida State indoor volleyball team won three-straight sets and pulled off the 3-1 upset over No. 7 Nebraska on Friday night at the Devaney Center.
The win ties the second highest victory in school history and marks the 20th ranked triumph for FSU head coach Chris Poole and 29th overall as a program.
“Most people think it’s nearly impossible to win at Nebraska,” Poole said. “It was a record crowd and the fact that we were able to do that just shows our potential this year. They’re a great program that teams try to model and I have a lot of respect for them. It’s such a great win for our group.”
In addition, the Seminoles handed their Huskers their first non-conference regular season loss since 2009, when No. 8 UCLA took the victory on Sept. 13, 3-2. It was only the fourth loss out of conference for Nebraska Head Coach John Cook in 15 seasons.
Redshirt senior libero Katie Mosher stepped up with a story-book beginning to her final season, posting a new career high, 33 digs – a tally that was five shy of the school record, which was set back in 1991 by Luiza Ramos scoring was different.
“I’m so proud of the way our team fought back,” Mosher said. “Most teams in this environment would crumble, but we had the heart to fight back. I just wanted to come out and play steady and to contribute to such a historic win.”
Junior outside hitter Nicole Walch led the attack with a double-double 18 kills and 15 digs, while sophomore outside hitter Katie Horton produced in double-double figures as well, scoring 16 kills and 10 digs in her first outing in the Garnet and Gold.
“I think it was a great experience tonight,” Walch said. “We had nothing to lose and we came out with intensity and we just wanted to win.”
Redshirt junior Mercedes Vaughn put down eight kills while junior Kiara Wright posted four. Together, Vaughn and Wright contributed towards a team total of eight blocks. Freshman right side hitter Milica Kubura made her debut in the second set and registered five kills.
“We’ve always said that it feels like we’ve been playing together for a while,” Horton said. “If you look at the roster and see how we play, you couldn’t tell who was new. It just felt great to be out there knowing my team had my back.”
Sophomore setter Hailey Luke amassed 25 assists and senior Sarah Wickstrom accounted for 23.
In the first, Nebraska used their home court advantage and strung together a 14-3 run before closing out the set 25-18 to take the 1-0 lead.
“We played hard during those first 10 points in the match,” Poole said. “But we went to sleep a little but our kids showed a tremendous amount of character by not giving up and they came back in the second set and fought.”
The two teams were evenly matched to start the second set before FSU could put together a 6-1 (16-11) to create some distance.
During the run, Mosher provided incredible defense keeping a pair of rallies alive before Walch and redshirt sophomore Sarah Burrington could provide a pair of kills.
“Katie played great for us,” Poole said. “She was digging every ball and getting it where we needed. She was incredible.”
Wickstrom’s serve was on point accounting for a pair of aces at critical times in the set – first giving the Noles a 12-10 edge before taking back the lead late 22-21. Nebraska would commit an attack error before FSU would be called for a service and ball handling error for a tied set 23-23.
The Seminoles would have three set points, earning kills from Horton and Wright before Wright placed the ball on the right corner for the set 27-25 and the 1-1 tie.
The third set saw 10 ties before Wickstrom could give the Noles back the lead with her third ace of the match at 23-22. Horton closed out the set with a kill, 25-20 for the 2-1 advantage.
In the fourth, the Seminoles fell into 9-2 hole before a 7-1 run pulled them within one (10-9) before a setter dump from Luke and a kill from Walch would tie the set at 11. The Seminoles would tie the score three more times before Horton swung for back-to-back points for the 17-16 lead.
Nebraska would not go away, charging back to tie 23-23 before a pair of errors gave Florida State the 3-1 upset.
“Nebraska was able to tie each of those three sets late,” Poole said. “I’m very proud that it was the first match of the season. We have things we need to work on, but that certainly is a great start and to do it in front of a record crowd is good as anything we could have asked for.”
On Sunday, Florida State will play in the second match of the Showcase and face Iowa State in Ames. The Seminoles are 4-0 against the Cyclones all-time.
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