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Former Noles Find Careers in Coaching



June 27, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) - Three former members of the FSU indoor volleyball team will enter their first seasons as assistant coaches for NCAA Division I schools in 2014.

"I'm entering my 32nd season as a college coach and most of my former players have ended up coaching club, high school or on the collegiate level at some point after graduating," FSU head coach Chris Poole said. "I am always proud to see the young ladies give back to the community and make an impact on other young players."

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Ashley Neff enters her first season as an assistant coach at Belmont University.

The most recent graduate (December 2013), middle blocker Ashley Neff will join the Belmont University staff following a stint with Liigua Eura in Finland. Neff became the first player in ACC history to lead the conference in blocking for three-straight seasons, while helping the Seminoles to their first-ever Final Four appearance in 2011.

The Kennesaw, Ga. native is the only player in Seminole history to earn a pair of AVCA All-American honorable mention nods (2011, 2013), while capturing a third team honor in 2012. Neff was also the ACC Player of the Year in 2012.

"I'm very excited to have the opportunity to start my coaching career at Belmont," Neff said. "I've learned a lot from the wonderful coaches at Florida State and I'm blessed to have had the opportunity to work with them for four years."

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Albany hired Sareea Freeman as a first-year assistant coach.

Sareea Freeman was recently hired as an assistant coach at UAlbany. Freeman served as a middle blocker from 2009-2012 where she hit .356 percent while registering 666 kills and 393 total blocks. As a senior in 2012, she earned AVCA All-American honorable mention and was instrumental in the Final Four run in 2011.

Following her volleyball career at FSU, Freeman played overseas with Vasas Volleyball Professional Sports Club in Budapest, Hungary before she returned to Tallahassee and used her remaining semester of eligibility in 2014 by playing with the FSU women's basketball team.

"I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with this organization," said Freeman. "I am excited to get to work, make a positive impact on this program and help student-athletes be successful in their careers."

"Sareea and Ashley are literally jumping into this profession as recent graduates and they were chosen ahead of more experienced coaches based on their positions," Poole said. "However, they are both very confident and add significant experience as blockers. In fact, they were among the best blockers in the country as players and were a big reason for our team making such an impact on the front row."

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Visnja Djurdjevic is on board with the Boston College staff for the 2014 season. 

Former FSU outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic will enter her first season with Boston College as a volunteer assistant. Djurdjevic was a two-year (2010-2011) standout for the Seminoles, becoming the first volleyball player in school history to earn multiple AVCA All-America honors for the Garnet and Gold.

During her senior season, the Zitiste, Serbia native closed out her collegiate career with 354 kills, averaging 2.85 per set, while proving to be instrumental in the Final Four run in 2011.

"I am really excited to be working with Boston College as my first coaching job," Djurdjevic said. "It is a great program to start off my coaching career. Playing at FSU and being part of school history really helped me achieve this opportunity. I am really proud and thankful for what the FSU family gave to me, and I will always be proud to be a Seminole."

In addition to the recent first-year hires, 2010 graduates Jordana Price and Brianna Barry have enjoyed multiple years of coaching at NCAA Division II institutions following professional play.

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After one season as a graduate assistant, Brianna Barry was promoted to head coach at Southeastern Oklahoma State. 

Barry enters her first year as the head coach at Southeastern Oklahoma State after being promoted from a graduate assistant after just one season in 2013.

While a Seminole, Barry was named as the 2009 ACC Most Valuable Player, helping her team to the Elite Eight round for the first time in school history as a middle blocker. Barry also still holds the school record for hitting percentage in a single season (.492) as well as for a career (.371).

"Volleyball has been a big part of my life since I was very young," Price said. "When I committed to Florida State it was one of the most exciting days of my life. Getting to be a part of such a strong collegiate program deepened my love for the sport and helped me realize that I wanted to become a coach. After furthering my playing career by becoming a professional overseas in Switzerland for three seasons, I made the decision to retire and become a graduate assistant at Southeastern Oklahoma State University this past fall. Now that I am the head coach at SOSU, I am ready to take what I learned at FSU, playing overseas, and being a GA and teach my players to love volleyball just as much as I do. It is exciting to see former teammates and recent FSU alums in the coaching field - I look forward to keeping up with their careers."

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Jordana Price is ready for her third season as an assistant coach for Valdosta State.

Price enters her third season as an assistant coach for the Valdosta State Blazers. "I am very excited for our upcoming season," Price said. "The past two years we've seen vast improvement in our players in numerous aspects of their game, including growing together as a family and a team. This fall I can't wait to have the seniors and underclassman leave it all on the court and hopefully bring home the GSC Championship they have relentlessly worked for."

As a middle blocker, Price was big on the net in the Elite Eight run in 2009, recording 275 kills (2.24 per set) while turning in 161 total blocks, which ranks as the seventh best season performance in FSU history.

"I had such incredible collegiate experience," Price said. "From winning the ACC championship to our Elite Eight appearance in 2009, these events were life altering and have shaped who I am, not only as a volleyball player but a person as well. Working for years to win a championship instilled in me superior drive and the wisdom to understand what it takes to climb to the top of the NCAA next to your best friends. I believe I bring these lessons I learned at Florida State to my coaching style here at VSU and I couldn't have asked for a better journey."

"I am proud of each of these young ladies and what they have accomplished," Poole said. "I have no doubt that they will represent themselves and the Florida State Volleyball family as first class coaches and mentor of young women."

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