TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – An impressive 2012 campaign by the ninth-seeded Florida State indoor volleyball team ended prematurely as it was defeated by 22nd-ranked Purdue on Saturday evening, 3-2 (20-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-23, 11-15), in an NCAA second round match at Tully Gym.
The Seminoles (28-4) had their 27-match win streak at Tully Gym that spanned two years snapped by an experienced Boilermakers’ (23-10) team that was boosted by their outstanding defensive play. Purdue compiled 17 team blocks in the five-set affair, by far the most by an opponent this season.
“Certainly we’re very proud of the girls on a great season,” head coach Chris Poole said. “I mean they worked hard all year. I think there were a lot of question marks coming in this season; we had three kids that graduated last year, that had made All-American at one point during their career here and I think those question marks were really glaring going through the spring and the summer, but I felt like we had some players that really stepped up big and helped carry us, certainly our two middles (Sareea Freeman and Ashley Neff) did a fantastic job all year.”
With Florida State knocking Purdue out in last year’s regional semifinals in Minneapolis, the Boilermakers avenged the loss courtesy of an outstanding performance from redshirt junior setter Rachel Davis. The Kalamazoo, Mich. native put together eight kills and spear-headed a 75-kill attack for the Boilermakers that resulted in a .266 hitting percentage. Davis finished with a .467 hitting percentage of her own, added 14 digs and strung together 57 assists.
The Seminoles were unable to stop Purdue’s two middle blockers in Kierra Jones and Anna Drewry. Jones put together 10 kills and nine blocks, while Drewry had 11 kills and five blocks. Their play helped snap Florida State’s two-match win streak against the Big Ten, which included a victory over Ohio State earlier this year.
Returning to the court for her first match in nearly a month was junior right-side hitter Elise Walch. The Seminole from Stuart, Fla. was Florida State’s primary offensive option with 16 kills and a .367 hitting percentage. Walch also was a huge factor in last season’s regional semifinal win over Purdue when she had 11 kills against the Boilermakers.
Florida State senior outside hitter Fatma Yildirim ended her career with a career-high 23 digs in Saturday night’s match, a fitting ending for one of three All-ACC selections that the Seminoles boasted this year. Yildirim added eight kills in the match.
After holding off a ferocious Purdue comeback in the fourth set, the pressure mounted in the fifth and final set of the match. Florida State looked in good position early as it raced out to a 5-2 lead behind a kill from Walch, but an important timeout by Purdue was followed by four consecutive points. Back-to-back attack errors by Purdue’s Ariel Turner created a 10-9 lead for Florida State, but Purdue countered with a kill by Katie Griffin and a kill by Turner.
Holding an 11-10 lead, Purdue won the next two points on an attack error by Florida State and another kill by Turner. Freeman cut into the lead at 13-11 on a kill of her own, but a put-down by Drewry set up match point for the Boilermakers. Florida State then recorded an attack error on a ball that grazed the antenna to send Purdue to the regionals back on its campus in West Lafayette, Ind.
Senior middle blocker Sareea Freeman’s monstrous senior season comes to a close as she finished with eight kills in the match. The Fresno, Calif. native finishes her final season with a .438 hitting percentage that ranks as the second-highest single-season mark by a Seminole. Freeman’s efficient hitting percentage is only surpassed by second-team All-American Brianna Barry’s .492 mark in 2009.
Senior right-side hitter Marija Milosavljevic was a force again from the right side, putting down 10 kills for the Seminoles. The Serbia native was a key figure over the last three seasons in transitioning from middle blocker to the right-side with ease, showing a consistent level of play that will be sorely missed.
Senior setter Duygu Duzceler finishes her career with 2,915 assists, the sixth-most by a Seminole despite playing a 6-2 rotation all four of her seasons. Duzceler never missed a set in her Florida State career and finishes an enjoyable four-year run having played in all 134 of her matches.
The Seminole senior class finishes their career with 109 victories, the seventh-most in school history and the most by a class that played all four years in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Together they reached the NCAA National Semifinals, the regional finals, two second rounds and won three conference titles in four years.
“Certainly, Sareea (Freeman) has done just an unbelievable job since she’s been here just to see her maturing into the young lady that she is and how hard she worked these last couple years to put herself in the position to be an All-American and certainly she should be this year,” Poole added. “She has carried us many times this year.
Marija (Milosavljevic) has certainly stepped up a lot these past few years for us and has done a great job and today came out and we got very good play from Marija. Duygu (Duzceler) I think pretty much from the time she walked in we threw her on the court as a freshman and helped lead us to the Elite Eight that year and has done a fantastic job of giving the kind of setting and leadership that we needed on the court.
Fatma (Yildirim), the same thing with her, from the time she came in as a freshman we threw her to the fire and she just had a great attitude and continued to work hard and had a great season. It’s a shame for them, it’s a shame for any team that gets bit at the end; at some point only one team is going to win it all.”
The Seminoles head into the offseason with high expectations once again for 2013. Follow Florida State volleyball throughout the offseason on Seminoles.com, on Twitter at @FSU_Volleyball and through Facebook at Facebook.com/FSUVolleyball.