Chapel HIll, NC - The 14th-ranked Florida State University women’s volleyball team waged a competitive battle with North Carolina, but ultimately fell, 3-2 (25-18, 20-25, 25-18, 22-25, 14-16), on Thursday evening at Carmichael Arena.
The loss snaps FSU’s unprecedented winning streak of 19 matches in Atlantic Coast Conference play. The Seminoles (11-3, 3-1) endured their first ACC loss since falling to Georgia Tech in five sets on Oct. 4, 2009. The loss also snaps FSU’s two-match winning streak against the Tar Heels (13-4, 4-0), who now own a nine-match winning streak.
“We came out playing really well but went flat in the second set and let them get their crowd involved,” coach Chris Poole said. “They had a very good student section that kept their team motivated. It was a disappointing loss but the ACC has a lot of great teams this year and we are going to be pushed every match.
“We have the target on our backs and we know teams are going to come after us with the best they have. We’ve got to recover quickly with another match tomorrow night against N.C. State.”
FSU is now 6-2 this season away from Tully Gym, with its other loss coming to nationally-ranked Tennessee at the Houston Invitational on Sept. 4.
Having an excellent performance in tonight’s loss was sophomore middle blocker Sareea Freeman. The Fresno, Calif., native registered her first career double-double by tying a career high with 10 kills and establishing a new career high with 10 blocks. Freeman also recorded the same amount of kills earlier this season against Kentucky, as well as in last season’s five-set win over Wake Forest on Nov. 8, 2009.
Freeman is now the fifth Seminole to record a double-double this season, joining Visnja Djurdjevic, Jekaterina Stepanova, Duygu Duzceler and Patricia Figueiredo. FSU’s 19 team blocks also marks its highest of the season.
Junior Rachael Morgan also had a good performance, amassing nine kills, four digs and five blocks. Djurdjevic had her seventh double-double of the year with 12 kills and 18 digs, and Jenna Romanelli had 20 digs while Duygu Duzceler led the Seminoles with 27 assists.
Stepanova led FSU with 13 kills and recorded 16 digs, marking her fourth double-double of the season.
In the fifth set, FSU took an early 4-2 lead on an attack error by Suzanne Haydel. The set was then tied on a kill by Christine Vaughen, followed by a kill from Shelbey Blake and a block by Emily McGee to give UNC a 10-8 lead. FSU fought back and tied the match on blocks by Djurdjevic and Freeman, and then served for match point at 14-13 courtesy of a solo block by Djurdjevic.
Johnston kept UNC’s hopes alive with a smash down the middle of the court to tie it at 14-14, and then recorded the winning kill on match point down the right sideline to give the Tar Heels a quality win.
FSU started off well by winning the first set on the strength of five kills by Morgan. The Seminoles recorded 15 kills compared to UNC’s 12, but kept the Tar Heels around due to seven attack errors. Up 10-8 in the middle of the set, FSU won the next seven points as Stepanova amassed a solo block and two consecutive kills, and then finished off the set on a kill that was assisted by Patricia Figueiredo.
The Tar Heels came back to take the second set, as McGee and Johnston each recorded five kills apiece. FSU relied on its defense for points in the set, tallying five blocks and just seven kills. After Freeman’s kill trimmed FSU’s deficit to 10-7, UNC reeled off five straight points on two blocks and three kills, but the Seminoles responded with five points of their own. A block by Morgan and Freeman tied the set at 18-18, and a kill by Morgan then made it 19-19. However, four straight points by UNC were too much to overcome, and Stepanova’s attack error, the fifth of the set for FSU, ended the comeback bid.
The Seminoles took the third set as Freeman kept up her good game with three blocks, two kills and an assist. Stepanova registered five kills in the set, and Djurdjevic added four as FSU broke a 12-12 tie by winning seven of the next 10 points to take a 19-15 lead. After Vaughen responded with a kill to make it 19-16, FSU took the next four points and then won the set on a block by Freeman.
UNC showed plenty of fight by winning the fourth set, beginning with a 6-2 lead that eventually became a back-and-forth tussle before UNC broke through with two straight kills by McGee to take a 20-18 lead. FSU responded with a kill by Marija Milosavljevic and block assists by Morgan and Freeman to tie the match at 20-20, and another block by the front line pair tied it once again at 22-22. Johnston produced two final kills within the next three points to give UNC the tying set.
FSU returns with a matchup against N.C. State on Friday evening at 7 p.m. at the Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C. The Seminoles face North Carolina again this season on Nov. 12 at Tully Gym.