Oct. 5, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - The No. 13-ranked Florida State indoor volleyball team swept rival North Carolina on Friday evening, winning 3-0 (25-23, 26-24, 25-23) in front of a capacity crowd of 1,162 at Tully Gym.
Just like the scores indicate, the Seminoles (13-2, 5-1) won in three extremely competitive sets as the Tar Heels (13-3, 4-2) showed why they are viewed as a strong challenger in the conference. The victory was historic for the Seminole volleyball program, marking its school record 19th consecutive victory at Tully Gym.
The win on Friday night moves the 2011-12 Seminoles past the 1981 squad that originally held the record with 18 straight victories. Florida State has not lost at home since falling to Miami in five sets on Nov. 26, 2010.
"I thought the crowd was fantastic once again," head coach Chris Poole said following his 665th career win. "I had people texting my phone talking about how the gym was rocking, and sometimes I don't even realize it because I'm so focused. But it was another great crowd. We have become a difficult place to play because of our fan support. It has made it great for our girls, especially when tonight we were letting a couple leads slip away and our crowd kept encouraging us."
Stepping up yet again for Florida State were its two middle blockers in senior Sareea Freeman and junior Ashley Neff. The strong duo combined for 39 swings, as Freeman put down a team-high 11 kills while recording a .526 hitting percentage. Neff added 10 kills and a .400 hitting percentage. Both players entered the match in the Top 10 nationally in attack percentage.
"We have been focusing a lot on our middles who are both ranked in the Top 10," Poole added. "It is very much like in 2009 when we had our All-American middles in Brianna Barry and Jordana Price. We've been running a lot to them and they've been a real force. I'm proud of the way they are playing. UNC has several good athletes and I'm proud of the way our team stepped up."
Equally as impressive in collaborating with the middles were Florida State's talented setters in senior Duygu Duzceler and sophomore Sarah Wickstrom. Duzceler contributed with 21 assists and had 12 digs for her third double-double of the season, while Wickstrom recorded 16 assists. Both were vital in helping the Seminoles to a .292 hitting percentage against a North Carolina squad known for its tremendous block.
Senior outside hitter Fatma Yildirim delivered from the left side, recording 10 kills and a .318 hitting percentage. The Istanbul, Turkey native was an important option for the Seminoles to help provide a third attack aside from their two All-America caliber middles. Yildirim added nine digs in the match, falling just short of her third double-double of the year.
Redshirt sophomore libero Katie Mosher was stellar in the back row, recording a team-best 14 digs. Junior outside hitter Olivera Medic showed sound ball control and added 13 digs while putting forth eight kills.
Overall, the Seminoles recorded nine blocks compared to North Carolina's six. Neff elevated her blocks per set average to 1.56 after posting six blocks. Marija Milosavljevic contributed with three blocks while recording seven kills from the right side.
The victory was important for Florida State in several ways, including from an RPI standpoint. Facing the 19th-rated team in the RPI, the Seminoles are on their way to elevating their average of 30 should they defeat NC State at home on Sunday afternoon. NC State fell to Miami on Friday by a 3-1 score, putting the Seminoles in an early-season three-way tie with both NC State and Miami for first place in the conference.
Each set was dramatic on varying levels. In the first frame, the score was tied on seven occasions but Florida State used a kill by Milosavljevic to take a 23-21 lead. Consecutive attack errors by the Seminoles forced a timeout, and Florida State responded with back-to-back kills by Medic and Freeman to end the set.
Set two was a thriller, with 10 lead changes unfolding over the frame. UNC tied the score at 22-22 on a kill by Kayla Berringer, but later Milosavljevic came through with another big kill to give FSU set point at 24-23. UNC's Berringer put down another kill, and it was the second-to-last rally that really swung momentum. A combination of hard attacks were dug up by the Seminoles, who were benefited by an attack error by UNC that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Neff ended the second frame with a kill to give FSU a 2-0 lead. Florida State then took control for most of the third set, but consecutive points by the Tar Heels left them trailing only 24-23. Another long rally resulted in an attack error by UNC to give Florida State a key victory.
The Seminoles battle a talented NC State Wolfpack team on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Tully Gym. The match will finish a four-game homestand for Florida State.