DURHAM, N.C. (seminoles.com) – No. 13 Florida State indoor volleyball withstood a tough test from rival Duke to fend off the Blue Devils in three sets (25-16, 26-24, 25-22) on Thursday evening in another important conference match at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Using another big offensive day from middle blockers Sareea Freeman and Ashley Neff, the Seminoles (23-3, 14-2) won their 17th match in their last 18 outings against a pesky Duke squad that stayed relentless in the last two sets. Neff recorded her 11th double-digit kill effort of the season with a team-best 10 kills and a .381 hitting percentage. The Kennesaw, Ga. native picked up seven blocks.
Neff’s seven blocks on Thursday allowed her to become just the eighth Seminole to surpass 400 career blocks, as she now shows 406.
“I’m proud of the way we held our composure again at the end of those last two sets,” head coach Chris Poole said. “However, I am a little disappointed the way we are letting teams get back into the sets when we have control. We jumped out in sets two and three and allowed them to get back into it. We need to mentally work on building our leads.
“Ashley (Neff) did a great job tonight. She made a couple of mistakes in the second set and came back strong. At times we struggled but found ways to come back and that makes me proud of this team.”
Freeman, who entered the match second nationally in hitting percentage, finished with nine kills and a .353 hitting clip. It was a struggle at times offensively for the team, as Florida State finished with a .193 hitting percentage to mark its lowest of the year in a victory. Redshirt sophomore libero Katie Mosher helped cover ground defensively with 18 digs while Florida State matched the Blue Devils (14-14, 5-11) with 10 team blocks.
Marija Milosavljevic contributed with six kills, five blocks and a .286 hitting percentage. Senior Fatma Yildirim had a good all-around effort with eight kills and 13 digs, while junior Olivera Medic added 11 digs and three service aces.
The win for Florida State moves it a half match ahead of Miami for first place in the conference. The Hurricanes play Friday at Wake Forest and Saturday at Duke.
Florida State came out in impressive fashion in the first set, winning 25-16 behind Medic’s four kills and five digs. The Seminoles hit .333 in the frame while Duke was held to a .229 clip. The Seminoles led for virtually the entire set minus a 1-0 deficit to start the frame, expanding to a double-digit lead at 23-13 on a double block by Neff and Milosavljevic. The first set ended when Duke’s Chelsea Cook recorded a service error to give Florida State an early 1-0 overall lead.
A hard-fought second set resulted in a Seminole win following a double block by Neff and Yildirim off the attack of Duke’s Elizabeth Campbell. The Seminoles were at a 24-23 set-point deficit but were saved by a kill from Neff down the middle on a quick set from setter Duygu Duzceler. An attack error by Campbell that fell just off the line was followed by the big block from Florida State.
Another comeback was forced in the third set, but with a 24-22 match point advantage Neff rose up for a solo block to end the match in three sets. Trailing 22-20, Florida State reeled off five consecutive points which included consecutive aces by Duzceler and a kill by Milosavljevic that set up match point.
Campbell led Duke with 11 kills and finished with a .241 hitting percentage.
Florida State is now 10-3 in the last two seasons in matches that are either televised or streamed by the ACC’s television partners.
The Seminoles play their final road match of the regular season at Wake Forest on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.