Aug. 17, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - For the second time in head coach Chris Poole's five-year tenure in Tallahassee, Florida State indoor volleyball has been chosen to finish first in the Atlantic Coast Conference as voted on by the conference's 12 head coaches.
The Seminoles, who have won two ACC titles in the last three years, enter the year as conference favorites once again despite the absence of its strong outside and right-side hitters that were lost to graduation. Three Seminoles in junior middle blocker Ashley Neff, senior middle blocker Sareea Freeman and redshirt sophomore libero Katie Mosher were named to the 2012 Preseason All-ACC Team.
FSU's three selections to the preseason team tie with Clemson for the most in the ACC. Eleven of the 18 selections were voted to the 2011 All-ACC team, and seven were named Honorable Mention All-America by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
"It's your coaching peers that vote for this," Poole said. "It's nice to know they respect our program enough to vote us first, even though we lost three players with All-America honors. It certainly says a lot for the respect of our team.
"We appreciate the honor of starting the year predicted first. In preseason everyone is trying to get ready to knock everyone off. Our goal is about where we finish, and our team is working hard to meet the expectations."
Florida State accumulated 118 of a possible 121 points, including nine first-place votes from the coaches. First-place votes were awarded 11 points, second place received 10 points, etc. Coaches were not allowed to include their own team in their predicted order of finish.
Predicted second in the preseason poll is North Carolina, which garnered 111 points and three first-place votes. Clemson is predicted third with 97 points, followed by Duke (92), Miami (81) and Georgia Tech (66).
Virginia Tech, NC State, Virginia, Maryland, Wake Forest and Boston College were predicted to finish seventh through 12th.
Last season, FSU finished 18-2 in the conference. The team accomplished numerous feats within the ACC, including a 16-match win streak against conference opponents that was also the fourth-longest overall win streak in school history.
Within the streak, the Seminoles won their first four conference matches of the season in straight sets, the first time it swept four consecutive ACC opponents since 1998.
FSU begins the season ranked 12th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll. Neff, who led the country last year with 197 total blocks, anchors a strong middle blocking core that will look to keep opposing attackers in check. The reigning AVCA Honorable Mention All-American continues to improve offensively and will boast FSU once again up front.
Freeman is expected to have an even bigger year after finishing extremely well last season. The Fresno, Calif., native made even more strides over the summer after participating in the United States Women's A2 program, and was picked as a COBRA Magazine First-Team Preseason All-American last week.
Redshirt sophomore Katie Mosher has already set herself up to be one of the top liberos in school history. The Fort Myers, Fla., native shattered the single-season school digs record in 2011, reaching 604. Prior to preseason practice, Mosher was named the team captain by Poole and is ready to challenge as one of the conference's best liberos.
Fans can check out the Seminoles all season at home, as FSU has 14 matches at Tully Gym including two against Florida (Oct. 24) and Miami (Nov. 23) that will stream on ESPN3.com. The Seminoles have a total of seven matches on their regular-season schedule that will either be televised or streamed, with more that could possibly be announced.
Follow the FSU volleyball team all season long on Facebook at facebook.com/FSUVolleyball, as well as on Twitter at twitter.com/FSU_Volleyball.