Tallahassee, FL - The Florida State University volleyball team looks to finish strong in the latter part of the regular season as it travels to Georgia Tech and Clemson for important road matches this weekend.
FSU battles the surging Yellow Jackets (15-10, 8-5) on Friday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. at O’Keefe Gymnasium. The Seminoles (15-8, 7-6) then face the Tigers (14-10, 5-8) on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Jervy Gym.
“Those are both great teams. They’re coached very well, they’ve got great athletes and it’s going to be a tremendous challenge,” head coach Chris Poole said. “We’ve got to try to turn it around this weekend and step up, play well and not worry about who’s not on the court, but who’s on the court and can do their job.”
Earlier in the season, FSU defeated Clemson, 3-1, before falling to Georgia Tech in straight sets. Against the Tigers, it was the play of sophomore middle blocker Sareea Freeman and junior setter Patricia Figueiredo that sparked the Seminoles after losing the first set. Freeman finished the contest with nine kills, a .571 hitting percentage and three blocks, while Figueiredo had her second-most assists of the season with 26 while recording seven digs.
FSU followed with a three-set loss to Georgia Tech, as sophomore Monique Mead stifled the Seminoles with a match-high 17 kills. Mead, a left-handed player, enters the weekend as the ACC’s leader with 4.28 kills per set.
Although the Seminoles fell to both Virginia and Virginia Tech in five-setters last weekend, the play of senior outside hitter Stephanie Neville continues to be a bright spot for the Garnet and Gold. Neville finished with 13 kills and a .270 attack percentage against Virginia Tech last Friday, then had a season-high 17 kills and a .317 hitting percentage against Virginia.
Over her last four matches, Neville has accumulated 57 kills, only nine errors in 137 attacks, a .357 hitting percentage, 17 digs and 14 blocks. For the season, she leads the team with a .268 attack percentage and is second with 224 kills. Lauren Young, Jenna Romanelli and Duygu Duzceler carry higher percentages, but do not meet the NCAA mandated 3.33 attacks per set to statistically qualify.
FSU enters the weekend with the No. 26 RPI in the nation, and carries a postseason résumé that features Top 50 RPI wins over Duke (8), Oklahoma (22), Miami (27), Virginia Tech (33) and Virginia (50). The Seminoles also went on the road and defeated then-No. 16 Kentucky (51), and opened the year with a victory against New Mexico State (59).
Including this weekend’s matches, the Seminoles have seven more conference matches left. In what has been an extremely competitive ACC, FSU will have opportunities to make its postseason case even more appealing.
“There are eight matches left, and I think we have to get a minimum of six in those matches. It’s pressure on every match,” Poole added. “Our preseason schedule is still ranked in the Top 10 in the country, and it’s holding us up right now. We’ve got to find a way to win some matches.”
Coming back strong in last weekend’s match against Virginia was junior outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic, who posted 20 kills and 22 digs for her 12th double-double of the year. Djurdjevic is once again entrenched in the top five in kills per set (3.32), service aces per set (0.31) and points per set (3.92) in the ACC, joining only Virginia’s Simone Asque and Miami’s Lane Carico.
Romanelli inched into the conference’s Top 10 in digs per set this past week. Over her last three matches she has recorded 26, 18 and 27 digs, respectively, and now boasts 1,053 digs for her career. She is just two digs away from passing former Seminole Deanna Bosschaert (1991-94) for eighth place on the school’s career list, and is also just 28 shy of passing Jennifer Werrick (1997-00) for seventh all-time.
Romanelli could also surpass sixth-place holder Deanne Kaleta (1985-88) this weekend, needing only 31 digs to take over her spot.
Young, a senior middle blocker, is also on the conference charts with 1.14 blocks per set, tying for third in the ACC.
A win over the Yellow Jackets would temporarily place FSU in a tie for third place in the conference. Georgia Tech won seven straight matches from Oct. 1-22, but has lost three of its last four. Clemson defeated Maryland (3-1) and Boston College (3-0) on Oct. 22 and 23, respectively, but lost its last two contests to Duke and Wake Forest.
FSU’s contest against Georgia Tech can be followed on streaming video or via CBS GameTracker. The Clemson contest can also be followed via CBS GameTracker.