TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – A .357 hitting percentage by the ninth-seeded Florida State indoor volleyball team propelled it past a gritty Hofstra squad on Friday evening, winning 3-0 (25-21, 25-10, 25-20) in front of 917 fans in the NCAA First Round in Tully Gym.
The Seminoles (28-3) found the hitting lanes early and often on Friday night, as senior outside hitter Fatma Yildirim posted a .400 mark on nine kills while senior middle blocker Sareea Freeman added seven kills in nine attacks for a .778 hitting percentage. Freshman right-side hitter Mara Green finished with four kills in 10 swings for a .400 hitting clip.
Florida State’s hitting percentage was its fifth highest this season and its highest since accumulating a .364 mark at Maryland on Oct. 14. Freshman outside hitter Nicole Walch got into the act with five kills and a .333 clip, while junior outside hitter Olivera Medic added seven kills.
“Certainly we are pleased to win the match tonight,” head coach Chris Poole said. “I feel like we played pretty well overall. I think what a lot of people don’t understand is once your season is over and you go into the NCAA Tournament it’s like a whole new season again so that’s the reason you will see upsets. There were upsets last night, there were upsets tonight, already. You’ve got to be really careful and understand it’s one and done right now and you don’t always know how your team is going to respond to that, in whether they are going to step up and play or whether there’s going to be some nervousness involved with that.”
Florida State also used its height to its advantage with eight blocks, as Green produced five blocks to tie for her second-highest of the season. The McDonough, Ga. native helped the Seminoles improve to 9-3 this season against NCAA Tournament teams.
Under Poole, Florida State is also 9-3 in the NCAA Tournament since he arrived in 2008. The Seminoles are now 10-14 in 15 NCAA postseason appearances in their program history.
Senior Duygu Duzceler led the Seminoles with 16 assists and recorded two service aces to tie for ninth in school history with 132 for her career. The Istanbul, Turkey native played in her 133rd career match on Friday and has yet to miss a set in her four-year career.
Florida State’s dominance inside Tully Gym will be put to the test on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. when it faces a talented Purdue squad. The Boilermakers were impressive in a 3-0 sweep over Colorado State in the opening round match on Friday.
“They are a very experienced team,” Poole said of the Boilermakers. “The Big Ten is always either the top or the second best conference in the country each year. They played strong teams all year, they have experience, they got probably the best player in the Big Ten and they are very confident. They know how to play against strong competition and they are a confident team.”
The Seminoles got to the second round despite an outstanding day for Hofstra outside hitter Nikki Kinnier. The junior registered 12 kills in 23 attacks for a .435 hitting percentage but the rest of the Pride (21-14) collaborated for a .167 hitting clip.
“Well I think that there were a few times that Hofstra would start to make a little bit of a run and we would get back control of it and take back over and I think that’s real important because sometimes teams will drop off and continue to make a lot of mistakes,” Poole added. “I feel like we had pretty good control offensively, and defensively, we got better as the game went on, we ended up adjusting to some things that they were doing, which is very important in a volleyball match, you need to be able to recognize what the other team is trying to do.”
The winner of Saturday’s NCAA second round match between Purdue and Florida State will head to the NCAA Regional Semifinals in West Lafayette, Ind. Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. match will be video streamed once again on NCAA.com and can be followed via live stats on CBS GameTracker.