TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – The 12th-ranked Florida State indoor volleyball team hosts in-state rival and 11th-ranked Florida in a highly anticipated match at Tully Gym on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 6 p.m.
The match will stream live on ESPN3.com, with play by play being done by Tom Block and color analysis provided by Seminole volleyball coaching legend Cecile Reynaud. Free pizza is available before the game for “Poole Party” members courtesy of Student Housing Solutions.
The matchup features two teams that enter Wednesday’s contest with a combined 26-match win streak. The Seminoles (18-2, 10-1), who hold the 13th-best RPI in the nation, have two important streaks on the line. Florida State has not lost a match at Tully Gym since Nov. 26, 2010, carrying a school-record 20-match win streak at home. Florida State also has an overall 12-match win streak, while the Gators (17-2, 11-0) come in with 14 consecutive wins.
“It’s always great when we have an opportunity to play a top team,” head coach Chris Poole said. “It just happens to be that this is a big rival for us. (Gator head coach) Mary Wise and I started playing each other back in 1994 when I was at Arkansas and since then every year has been a battle. They are always strong matches and there is a very healthy respect between her and I and we expect a very good game on Wednesday night.”
Florida State is trying to break another meaningful streak in front of the home faithful on Wednesday evening. Despite advancing farther than Florida in the NCAA postseason two of the past three years, the Seminoles have lost 21 consecutive matches to the Gators. The last time Florida State defeated Florida was on Oct. 31, 1994 at Tully Gym.
Overall, Florida leads the all-time series 35-21. The Seminoles have held match point against Florida in two of the last three seasons but have been unable to come away with a highly-sought after win.
Wednesday’s match marks the third consecutive year both teams play each other as nationally-ranked opponents. The Seminoles are led by their impressive middle blocking core of junior Ashley Neff and senior Sareea Freeman. Neff is the only player in the nation who is in the Top 10 nationally in blocks per set (fifth at 1.66) and hitting percentage (third at .448). Comparing her All-America season in 2011 to this year through the first 20 matches, Neff is exceeding her blocks per set average and has 44 more kills.
Freeman has been impressive for Florida State, ranking second in the country with a .450 hitting percentage. She is one of just six Seminoles who have been named ACC Player of the Week more than once in her career, earning the weekly honor last year and again this season.
Florida State is looking to earn its first Top 10 RPI win of the year, with Florida coming in as the 10th-ranked team. According to the latest NCAA RPI figures, the Seminoles are 7-2 against the Top 50 opponents, with No. 16 Tennessee being their highest-valued win.
Both teams earned hard-fought victories last weekend. Florida State went on the road at Georgia Tech and battled back from an 0-2 deficit to win the match in five sets. Florida traveled to Texas A&M and managed to come back from the same deficit and win the fifth frame in convincing fashion, staying undefeated in the Southeastern Conference.
Junior middle blocker Chloe Mann has emerged as one of the top players across the country, leading the team with 3.87 kills per set and a .439 hitting percentage. Slovenian freshman Živa Recek is one of the top newcomers in the nation, showing a team-leading 256 kills and a .296 hitting percentage.
The Gators rank second in the country in hitting percentage with a .312 clip, with Mann, right-side Tangerine Wiggs and middle blocker Betsy Smith all placing in the Top 50 individually.
Following Wednesday night’s match, the Seminoles get back into conference play with home matches against Virginia on Friday and Virginia Tech on Sunday. Friday’s match at 7 p.m. offers free tanks to the first 400 fans and is also a Seminole Spirit Rewards match where participants can earn double the loyalty points.
Sunday’s match versus Virginia at 1 p.m. is the annual “Paint it Pink” match, with breast cancer awareness T-shirts available for a $10 donation. After the match there will also be a “Paint it Pink” clinic.