Knoxville, TN - The 12th-ranked Florida State indoor volleyball team could not ask for a better start to the season, earning two victories against No. 10 Iowa State and Cincinnati to finish the Comcast Lady Vol Classic with a 3-0 overall record and a tournament title on Saturday evening at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Seminoles (3-0) defeated Iowa State in their first match at noon, 3-2 (23-25, 25-23, 25-11, 25-27, 15-11), in what was a rematch of last season’s Elite Eight thriller won by FSU in five sets. Junior outside hitter Olivera Medic was the focal point of the match, recording 19 kills, a .516 hitting percentage and 12 digs for her first career double-double at FSU.
FSU won the second match of the day against Cincinnati, 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-14). Medic was invaluable in today’s matches, putting forth a great performance in the first match, then entering the third set against Cincinnati as the libero after starter Katie Mosher went down late in the second frame with an injury.
“It was an amazing weekend,” head coach Chris Poole said. “My staff has done a great job preparing the girls for this weekend. This was easily one of the top tournaments in the nation and I'm proud of how the girls stepped up. We had contributions from a lot of people and this group of girls will only get better.”
For the tournament, Medic finished with 24 kills and a .442 hitting percentage in three matches. Marija Milosavljevic and Elise Walch also had 24 kills, while Fatma Yildirim led the group with 26 put-downs in the three-match slate.
Ashley Neff was very effective to open the season, totaling 23 kills, a .538 hitting percentage and 16 blocks this weekend. Setters Duygu Duzceler and Sarah Wickstrom coincidently totaled 61 assists apiece, providing several good sets for FSU’s talented hitting core.
Sareea Freeman was also efficient, putting down 15 kills and 10 blocks. Mosher led FSU with 42 digs this weekend.
FSU hit .267 in the match against the Cyclones, showing good offensive balance with Yildirim (15 kills, 13 digs), Milosavljevic (13 kills), Neff (11 kills, 5 blocks) and Elise Walch (11 kills). Yildirim’s double-double was the eighth of her career.
The Seminoles’ win over No. 10 Iowa State is now their 19th nationally-ranked win in the school’s history. Iowa State is the sixth highest-rated opponent FSU has ever defeated, and Poole’s 10th ranked opponent he has beaten as FSU’s head coach since 2008.
After Iowa State mounted a small comeback to take the fourth set and tie the match, Florida State jumped out to a commanding 6-0 lead in set five courtesy of some good serving from Duzceler. Iowa State then came back by winning six of the next seven rallies, but FSU held strong as Freeman’s kill gave the Seminoles a 10-7 lead.
The Cyclones kept it close, as a kill by Tory Knuth cut the FSU lead to 12-10. A Freeman kill and attack error by ISU’s Mackenzie Bigee gave the Seminoles match point at 14-10, and Medic fittingly ended the match with her 19th kill.
Much like in Friday’s match against Tennessee, the first set against the Cyclones was another close battle but the Seminoles ultimately fell 25-23. With FSU leading 19-18, Iowa State put together a 6-0 run that was mostly aided by Seminole attack errors. However, FSU would not go down easily as it countered with four consecutive points which included kills by Freeman and Yildirim, once again combating a few set points.
The deciding point in the first set came off a good effort by FSU’s block, as it initially batted away an attack from the Cyclones. In the same rally, Iowa State’s Victoria Hurtt’s attack trickled off the side of an FSU player and fell out of bounds for the kill.
Elise Walch and Medic led FSU with five kills apiece in the opening set.
Both teams were sound offensively in the second set won by FSU at 25-23. The Seminoles recorded 19 kills on 44 attacks and mustered a .341 hitting percentage in the frame, highlighted by Yildirim and Milosavljevic’s four kills apiece. Medic was 5-for-9 in her kill attempts in the set, heading into the 10-minute break with 10 kills in the match.
FSU started fast in the second frame, leading 10-4 thanks to a flurry of kills by Medic. Iowa State stayed resilient and tightened the score, but FSU tried to break loose late as Medic finished off another attack to make it 19-14 late in the frame. Iowa State would later tie the set at 20-20 on a kill by Jamie Straube, but Yildirim countered with a strong kill of her own.
Following a timeout by the Seminoles leading 23-22, FSU won two of the next three rallies as Yildirim had another kill and Milosavljevic finished the set on a good attack in the middle of the floor.
The Seminoles were dominant in the third set, hitting .429 in the frame behind the attacking of Elise Walch and Neff. Leading 9-5 and off to another good start, FSU put together a 7-0 run to break away to a 16-5 lead. Neff then strung together three straight kills to give the Seminoles a 21-8 advantage. An attack error by Iowa State’s Jamie Straube ended the set, as the Cyclones hit a -.031 in the frame.
After a slow start versus Cincinnati, FSU managed to hit .294 against the Bearcats in the first set and come back for a 25-20 win. Neff tallied five blocks while Milosavljevic was effective with four kills. Laura Dadowski came in with the Seminoles leading 23-20 and delivered a great first serve and a service ace to win the set.
In set two against the Bearcats, FSU relied more on its attacking game after not producing a block. FSU hit .345, led by Yildirim’s four kills and three kills apiece from Neff and Elise Walch. In the third set, the Seminoles finished off the Bearcats with a 25-14 win.
Nicole Walch led FSU with eight kills in the win over Cincinnati, which was a rematch of last year’s NCAA second round contest won by FSU in five sets.
The Comcast Lady Vol Classic All-Tournament Team will be announced following the conclusion of the 7:30 p.m. match between No. 15 Tennessee and No. 10 Iowa State.
The Seminoles host the FSU Invitational next weekend in Tallahassee, starting the home season off with FIU on Friday, Aug. 31, at 6:30 p.m. at Tully Gym.