Oct. 4, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - The 13th-rated Florida State indoor volleyball team prepares for a challenge this weekend as it hosts first-place NC State and North Carolina at Tully Gym. Florida State and North Carolina square off on Friday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m., while NC State awaits on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The nationally-ranked Seminoles (12-2, 4-1) play at the friendly confines of Tully Gym for the second consecutive weekend. Florida State is riding an 18-match home winning streak that began at the start of the 2011 season. Last year, Florida State finished 14-0 at Tully Gym and is 4-0 in the early portion of this year.
Should Florida State defeat North Carolina at home on Friday, it would mark the longest home winning streak in program history. The 2011-12 Seminoles are tied with the 1981 squad with 18 consecutive matches won at Tully Gym.
"This is going to be a great challenge for us," head coach Chris Poole said. "Both teams are probably playing as well as anyone in the conference; both are at the top of the conference. I think for our girls right now, if we play consistent and continue to work hard all week and get better, then this team has a lot of potential. I think we have a lot of untapped potential and we can be better than we are right now."
Entering Tallahassee this weekend are two opponents off to fine starts in conference play. NC State has been impressive under head coach Bryan Bunn, with the Wolfpack (15-1, 5-0) sporting an undefeated conference record and owning victories over USF, North Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech and Clemson. NC State's lone loss was at the hands of VCU in five sets.
Florida State has defeated NC State 24 consecutive times, a streak that dates back to Sept. 29, 2000. But the Wolfpack is having its best season in many years, led by sophomore middle blocker Alesha Wilson's .421 hitting percentage that rates third in the conference. Senior setter Megan Cyr is also having a good season, sitting third in the ACC with 10.17 assists per set.
This weekend will be of great importance in helping Florida State move up in the ratings percentage index. The Seminoles are currently 30th in the nation while North Carolina is 19th and NC State is 28th. In order to take advantage of its opportunity, Florida State will look toward its top-notch middle blockers in junior Ashley Neff and senior Sareea Freeman.
Neff, a Kennesaw, Ga. resident, is currently fourth in the nation with a .464 hitting percentage. Freeman, who is from Fresno, Calif., is 10th with a .435 hitting percentage. Both players are first and second in the ACC in the respective category.
Florida State is 35-19 all-time against North Carolina, including 25-4 at home. The Tar Heels (13-2, 4-1) have only suffered losses on the road to Kentucky and NC State, but have defeated Long Beach State, Santa Clara, LSU, Duke, Clemson and Georgia Tech.
Freshman middle blocker Paige Neuenfeldt has led the Tar Heels thus far, sitting second in the ACC with 1.37 blocks per set. Fellow middle blocker Chaniel Nelson is averaging 1.14 blocks per set, while senior Tia Gaffen is at 1.08 per set.
The Seminoles hope to start the month of October on the right foot with consecutive matches against conference leaders. Since Poole arrived as Florida State's head coach in 2008, he has led the Seminoles to a 28-9 record in October while includes a 9-0 mark last season.
This weekend's matches can be followed on CBS GameTracker off the Seminoles.com volleyball page, as well as through in-match updates on Florida State volleyball's official Twitter handle - @FSU_Volleyball.