Aug. 26, 2011
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - The Florida State University indoor volleyball team posted a strong season-opening effort on the defensive end as it swept Kentucky, 3-0 (25-13, 25-8, 25-14), in front of an energized crowd on Friday evening at the FSU Invitational at Tully Gym.
Despite FSU soccer's home opener and the school year not starting until Monday, the Florida State faithful came out in droves tonight and created a tremendous atmosphere at the FSU volleyball facility. The Seminoles (1-0) fed off their fan base and came out with a defensive mindset, amassing 12 team blocks in just three sets of action.
"There's no doubt that playing in front of a good crowd gives you additional motivation," head coach Chris Poole said. "We were excited to have a lot of people there even though school hasn't started yet, and I think it raised the energy level of our team."
Sophomore Ashley Neff led the way by registering a career-high 10 blocks, all assisted, as she combined with sophomore newcomer Elise Walch to form a strong duo up front. Walch, a Stuart, Fla., native, added five blocks and five kills for the Seminoles.
"Ashley played very well," Poole added. "She has worked so hard and has come so far this past year. It's ashamed we had to pull the redshirt from her last year because of injuries. She really stepped up and played very well. She was a monster at the net and continues to get better offensively. We had a lot of balance tonight and everyone had their moment, and it really led to our success in beating a very good program."
Combining with its defensive attack was a formidable offense for FSU that posted a .465 hitting percentage. All night FSU found the open spots on the floor and used its tremendous service game to keep the Wildcats' (1-1) passing off-balanced. Neff tied with senior Visnja Djurdjevic for the team lead with seven kills, while seniors Rachael Morgan and Jekaterina Stepanova added six kills apiece.
Duygu Duzceler and Sarah Wickstrom, both setters, kept their offense on track by combining for 25 assists. Redshirt freshman Katie Mosher made a sterling debut by adding six digs, which Morgan and Stepanova also recorded.
Kentucky was held to a -.013 hitting percentage this evening while being out-blocked 12-2.5. The Wildcats defeated Albany in the opening match of the FSU Invitational by a 3-1 score.
The match started fast for FSU as Kentucky never held a lead until scoring the first points of the third set. After Kentucky's Anne Ames tied the first set at 7-7, the Seminoles outscored their nonconference opponents 12-4 over the next 16 points, which included two kills by Morgan during the run. Junior Sareea Freeman added to the offense with kills at the 22nd point and ending the set on a pinpoint kill that was set up nicely by Wickstrom.
FSU stormed out of the second set, winning 10 consecutive points early on a bevy of services aces and blocks. FSU piled on seven blocks in the second set alone to power past the Wildcats.
While the third set was tight early, FSU broke away after taking a 10-8 lead on a kill by Djurdjevic. FSU won six consecutive points following the Zitiste, Serbia native's kill and fittingly ended the contest on a kill by Neff.
The victory marks FSU's third consecutive win over the Wildcats in the last three seasons, which includes an NCAA Sweet 16 match in the 2009 season.
FSU returns to Tully Gym on Saturday to wrap up the invitational. The Seminoles face Albany in the first match at 11:30 a.m., then take on 23rd-ranked Tulsa at 7 p.m. The Golden Hurricane (1-0) won its first match of the season against Albany on Friday afternoon by a 3-0 score.