Oct. 2, 2013
By Layne Herdt (@Layne Herdt) Seminoles.com-,
When you're 6'3" growing is something you've become accustomed to and growth is one of the things that attracted Ashley Neff to Florida State coming out of high school, even though the Seminoles had yet to achieve any of the lofty milestones fans have seen during the last five years.
"I just got this feeling from the coaching staff," senior Ashley Neff said. "Coach [Chris] Poole kept saying that we were going to do something special with this program, just give it time, trust me. He kept telling us to trust him."
Neff's decision proved to be the right one with the senior being part of a Final Four squad and two ACC Championship teams, helping to turn Florida State into a top tier program.
"It's amazing to see just how far this program has come since I committed here," Neff said. "It's really something special and I'm excited to be apart of it."
As the program has risen so has Neff, who earned ACC Player of the Year honors last season and just eclipsed the 500 block mark this season.
"Anytime we recruit a player we certainly envision what they're capable of doing," head coach Chris Poole said. "We felt she was an All-American candidate that was a raw volleyball player coming in. She needed to be trained, but she had a great attitude, she's worked hard and she's continued to improve every single year. She's reached the expectations that we had for her and probably even surpassed those with being the ACC Player of the Year last season."
"Ashley jumps as high as she possibly can and penetrates over the net as much as she can," freshman Sarah Burrington said. "She's very solid, a very sold block."
"What I have accomplished, I never could have imagined," Neff said. "Where I am and what I've accomplished at this point, I just wanted to be a good player. I just wanted to help the program build but, with as much as has happened, I could never have even dreamed it."
Most importantly the senior is helping the next generation of Seminoles develop their skills.
"Ashley has taught me so much," Burrington said. "She's taught me to be up on every block. I've learned to hit certain cuts left and right. I watch her during practice, I analyze what she's doing, every time she gets a hit I think, why did she get that?"
"It's important for her to be a role model to all of the girls," Poole said. "She's done a great job with the younger middles to be able to bring them along and I know they really look up to her. They know how strong of a player she is and they know by trying to mimic the things she does, they're only going to get better. I think she's been a great role model for them and she's really taken that leadership role."
A good sign that future recruits will have the opportunity to build on what Neff has helped grow at Florida State.