Tallahassee, FL - An exciting regular-season conference finale awaits as the Florida State University volleyball team hosts rival Miami on Friday, Nov. 26, at 1 p.m. at Tully Gym. FSU follows with its final regular-season match on Saturday at the Al Lawson Center against Florida A&M at noon.
The winner of Friday’s match in the 35th meeting between FSU and Miami will be assured of third place in one of the more competitive Atlantic Coast Conference’s in recent memory. The Seminoles (20-9, 12-7) and the Hurricane (22-8, 12-7) carry identical conference records.
FSU and Miami are nearly identical in the NCAA RPI, carrying the 25th and 24th ranking, respectively. The Seminoles began their conference season with a 3-1 (19-25, 27-25, 27-25, 25-18) win in front of 904 fans at the James Knight Complex in Coral Gables, Fla.
“It’s a huge match for us,” head coach Chris Poole said. “There are a lot of things we can look at, certainly we’re tied with them in third right now so one team will finish third and the other fourth. We’re almost even in the RPI also, and they’re a great team. We’ve got a lot of respect for them, they’ve got some great athletes and every time we play it’s a battle. We expect it to be a great match on Friday.
“We’re hoping that the people who are in Tallahassee and are looking for something to do if they’re off work can come out and gives us a big boost, because it certainly will have big NCAA ramifications.”
In that contest, senior Stephanie Neville had one of her best performances of the season. The outside hitter from Cambridge, Ontario, had 16 kills and just one error in 30 total attacks for a .500 hitting percentage. Neville’s effort was the fourth-highest hitting percentage by a Seminole this season, as FSU’s .324 attack percentage in the match is its most in conference play this season.
Over FSU’s last 10 matches, no one has played as consistently as Neville. Through that span, she shows a .322 hitting percentage with 109 kills and 2.87 kills per set. In six of those 10 matches, Neville has hit above .300, topping out with a .440 attack percentage against Boston College in FSU’s last match. She is just 11 kills shy of setting her new single-season high, which is currently 286 from last season.
FSU has played some of its best volleyball toward the end of the season. The Seminoles currently hold a season-best five-match home winning streak, and are 4-0 on their current homestand. FSU’s last three matches have resulted in three-set victories, the second time this season its has strung together three consecutive 3-0 wins (Aug. 27-Sept. 3 vs. FIU, USF and at Houston).
For the first time in school history, the Seminoles have amassed 20 wins in three consecutive seasons as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which began in 1991. The milestone comes under the watch of Poole, who began his career at FSU in 2008. Prior to his arrival, the Seminoles hadn’t won 20 games in a season since going 21-13 overall and 10-6 in the ACC as an NCAA postseason participant in 2002.
Junior outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic is fourth in the ACC in double-doubles, tallying 13 for the season in 27 matches played. She is averaging a team-leading 3.31 kills per set, 0.31 service aces per set and has 400.5 points on the season.
Both teams come in with four-match winning streaks. Miami has one of the conference’s best players in junior outside hitter Lane Carico, who is third in the ACC in kills per set (3.84) and points per set (4.36) while tying for second with 0.32 service aces per set.
Miami shows quality road victories at Middle Tennessee State, Maryland, Virginia Tech and Clemson. Miami also has home victories over Virginia Tech, Virginia, Clemson, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Maryland.
Florida A&M faces FSU for the second consecutive season. The Seminoles are 21-0 all-time against the Rattlers, who were recently knocked out in the semifinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament by Delaware State.