April 29, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State head coach Chris Poole and the athletics administration announced the signing of four volleyball players to National Letters of Intent Thursday morning.
Included in that group are Junior College All-Americans Patricia Figueiredo and Jekaterina "Kate" Stepanova and freshmen signees Kaitlin Mosher and Ashley Neff.
"We are very excited the addition of these four young ladies to our volleyball program," FSU volleyball coach Chris Poole said. "We felt it was very important to add experience to the roster in an attempt to reload rather than go through a complete rebuilding process and we have done that with the junior college additions.
"We've followed these young ladies the last two seasons and they will both make an impact in our program."
Stepanova and Figueiredo starred together at NJCAA school Missouri State University-West Plains where they generated the interest of NCAA Division I coaches from throughout the country. Both were named to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Women's All-American team and the American Volleyball Coaches Association's (AVCA) Two-Year Colleges All-American team after the 2009 season.
Figueiredo, a 5-foot-9 native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, registered 620 assists in 124 career games as the starting setter at Missouri State University-West Plains. She posted 222 kills on 552 attempts with 72 errors for an attacking percentage of .271 and had 58 blocks, 35 aces, 315 digs and 315 points earned.
"Patricia is an exceptional athlete and has played both as a setter and hitter in the past," Poole said. "With (former Seminole) Nikki Baker graduating, Paty will take a major role as a setter for our program and help solidify that position again with Duygu Duzceler returning. We experienced going through a season with only one setter on the roster in 2008 and it was nice for our team to have options last fall.
"Paty will be able to step into the setter position and contribute immediately."
As for Stepanova, the 6-foot-2 outside hitter from Riga, Latvia was also a second-team All-American selection following her freshman season in 2008. In 111 games at Missouri State University-West Plains, Stepanova recorded 442 kills on 1,007 attempts with 113 errors for an attacking percentage of .326.
She also accrued 49 blocks, 33 aces, 423 digs and 524 points earned.
"Kate will have many of the all-around skills that (former Seminole) Lauren Richardson possessed," Poole said. "She will also exhibit a terminator mentality that will remind some of (former Seminole) Mira Djuric on the court."
Mosher signed with Florida State after a stellar career at Bishop Verot High School in Ft. Myers, Fla.
The 5-foot-9 libero was co-captain of her high school squad as a senior in 2009 when she was named to the FACA All-District First Team and the FACA All Star. In her final season, Mosher ranked No. 1 in aces, serve-receives, and digs. As a junior, she finished the 2008 season on the News-Press' All-Area First Team and ranked No. 1 at her school in digs and serve-receive.
Mosher also starred at the national level and on the sand. She was named to the USAV Girls Youth A2 National Team in 2009 and was selected as one of 16 athletes named to the National Beach HP U19 Elite Holiday Camp 2009 roster at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center.
"Katie is recognized as one of the best liberos in the nation," Poole said. "She continues to have opportunities with the national team programs each year and her volleyball resume is incredible. She is a true Seminole fan and from the point we started recruiting her, she made it clear she wanted to join our program.
"She is well respected in the state of Florida and throughout the nation by volleyball coaches and will be a great role model for our program."
Neff has actually been enrolled at Florida State since January and had the opportunity to compete throughout the Seminoles' spring schedule with her new teammates.
A 6-foot-3 middle blocker from Kennesaw, Ga., Neff made a name for herself on the volleyball court at North Cobb High School. As a senior, Neff achieved 329 kills and had 74 solo blocks en route to being named an all-area selection and the No. 89 player in the nation according to Prep Volleyball. She helped guide the Lady Warriors to the Area 5-AAAAA championship for the first time in North Cobb history in 2009.
"Ashley is one of the most athletic middles in the nation," Poole said. "She made incredible strides over the spring and this experience has given her confidence in the middle position. With Lauren Young being limited much of the spring with her ACL recovery, Ashley got a tremendous amount of attention. She is a great athlete touching close to 10-foot-3 and has incredible upside.
"Ashley has a chance of being one of the best middles to ever come out of Florida State with her long reach and strong work ethic."
The infusion of four talented student-athletes will certainly help a Seminoles team that is looking to build off a record-setting 2009 season. To do that means Poole and his staff have been charged with the task of replacing a host of players that have since moved on due to graduation.
And Wednesday's signing may have done just that.
"Very few teams will be losing five players with starting experience in one season with Brianna, Jordana, Mira and Nikki all making major contributions in 2009," Poole said," and Lauren Richardson our MVP from the 2008 season. While Lauren still has a year of eligibility left, her medical condition is forcing her to retire from volleyball early and she had the option of graduating this spring. Four of those five players earned all-conference honors over the last two seasons and three of them made All-American teams.
"We think that the additions of Ashley, Kate, Patricia and Kaitlin will help us move forward as we look to defend out ACC title."