Blacksburg, VA - Another valiant effort by the 25th-ranked Florida State University volleyball team was spoiled as it fell in the fifth set at Virginia Tech, 3-2 (15-25, 25-27, 25-20, 25-23, 15-13), on Friday evening at Cassel Coliseum.
The Seminoles (15-7, 7-5) were done in by Justine Record’s 26 kills and 20 digs, while Cara Baarendse added 18 kills. Junior outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic returned to the lineup and made an impact with her 11th double-double of the season, registering 16 kills and 18 digs.
FSU sorely missed the services of junior right-side hitter Rachael Morgan, who had 11 kills, a .588 hitting percentage and five blocks against the Hokies (15-7, 6-6) in their last meeting on Sept. 26.
“I’m very proud of the way the team came back again, but we still shot ourselves in the foot at the wrong time,” coach Chris Poole said. “We were up big in set two and up late 23-20 but didn’t make the plays at the end of the set. We definitely missed Rachael again tonight.”
Stephanie Neville continued to play well for FSU, tallying 13 kills, a .270 hitting percentage, six digs and four blocks. Junior outside hitter Jekaterina Stepanova had her sixth double-double of the year, showing 15 kills and 10 digs.
Senior middle blocker Lauren Young added seven kills for the Seminoles, while junior setter Patricia Figueiredo led the team with 24 assists. Sophomore Duygu Duzceler had 23 assists, and senior Jenna Romanelli had 18 digs to pass former player Latoya Washington for ninth on FSU’s all-time list.
Until the fifth set, FSU struggled offensively for most of the night. The Seminoles recorded a .181 hitting percentage, while Virginia Tech hit at an impressive .324 clip. The Hokies also outblocked FSU, 14-6, to create a big difference in the match.
“Credit Virginia Tech for playing really hard and coming back in the second and fifth sets to get the win,” Poole said. “We will keep working hard and try to get better. This team still has a lot to play for and a lot of young players getting valuable experience.”
An entertaining fifth set saw FSU jump out to an early 3-1 lead on kills by Neville and Djurdjevic as well as an attack error by Record. Five lead changes occurred in the set, as both teams were knotted at 10-10 late in the set. An attack error by Record then gave FSU an 11-10, but a subsequent timeout by Virginia Tech was followed by a kill by Victoria Hamsher to tie the match again.
Virginia Tech served for match point at 14-12, but FSU stayed relentless on a kill by Stepanova. The match came to a close when Jennifer Wiker and Hamsher recorded a block to turn around last month’s outcome and give the Hokies a five-set win.
FSU is now 5-3 in five-set matches this season.
The Seminoles return with a matchup at Virginia on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Memorial Gym in Charlottesville, Va.