COLLEGE PARK, Md. – After taking control with a 13-11 lead in the fifth set, the 22nd-ranked Florida State University volleyball team was unable to hold on as it lost to conference opponent Maryland, 3-2 (25-21, 26-28, 25-19, 18-25, 14-16), on Sunday afternoon at the Comcast Center Pavilion.
“We were up three points late in the second set and up late in set No. 5 and let them both slip away,” head coach Chris Poole said. “We can play great at times but are struggling under pressure.”
For the second straight contest, the Seminoles (14-5, 6-3) trailed 10-6 in the fifth set. Following a timeout, FSU mounted a small comeback by winning four consecutive points that included a kill by sophomore Sareea Freeman and a service ace by senior Jenna Romanelli.
After Maryland’s Mary Cushman recorded a kill to regain the lead at 11-10, FSU once again won three consecutive points. Remy McBain picked up a ball handling error, sophomore Duygu Duzceler followed with a service ace and junior Jekaterina Stepanova came up with a big kill to put FSU in winning position with a two-point lead late in the set.
However, Maryland seized momentum following a timeout of its own, winning the next three points to force match point. After McBain’s attack error pulled the match even at 14-14, the Terrapins (14-7, 5-4) walked away with the win by winning the next two points, which included a kill by Maddi Lee.
FSU was headed toward one of its better offensive performances in ACC play this year, which included a .483 hitting percentage in the third set. But the Seminoles struggled in the final two frames, combining for just 15 kills while Maryland totaled 26 in sets four and five.
Three Seminoles finished with double-digit kills, led by Visnja Djurdjevic’s 16. The junior outside hitter added 14 digs and tied her season-high with five blocks to give her 10 double-doubles this season. She also finished with a .314 attack percentage.
Morgan also had a sound offensive performance, hitting .375 and finishing with 11 kills compared to just two attack errors. Senior Stephanie Neville registered 12 kills on the afternoon, her third-highest total in nine ACC matches this season.
Senior middle blocker Lauren Young came through with a team-leading eight blocks, her second-most this year. Senior Jenna Romanelli established her season-high with 24 digs, leaving her only 28 digs away from totaling 1,000 for her career.
Duzceler recorded 29 assists for the second consecutive match, while junior Patricia Figueiredo added 19 for the Seminoles.
FSU is now 4-2 in five-set matches this season, showing wins over Kansas State, then-No. 16 Kentucky, Virginia Tech and Boston College.
“This is a great group of girls,” Poole added. “They want to do well and are working hard. We can’t keep making the same position mistakes. This group can be good but it’s taking too long to get our offense and defense working together.”
The Seminoles started off strong in the first set, hitting 15 kills and a .353 attack percentage. Although they trailed most of the set, a ball handling error by McBain tied it at 16-16. A service ace by Duzceler and a kill by Neville expanded the lead to 19-16, and two more kills by Neville gave the Seminoles a 21-18 advantage. The set ended when Fatma Yildirim recorded a kill to start FSU off right.
FSU never trailed in the third set, and used an ace by Stepanova to take a 16-9 lead midway through the frame. Djurdjevic powered FSU in the set, recording four kills and two blocks while Stepanova registered five kills as the Seminoles racked up 16 as a team to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Seminoles return with an ACC matchup versus Wake Forest on Friday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. at Tully Gym. The match will be streamed on Seminoles.com All-Access.