TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Despite playing without two of its top hitters in Rachael Morgan and Jekaterina Stepanova, the Florida State University volleyball team managed to get past Boston College in 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 26-24) fashion on Sunday afternoon at Tully Gym.
The victory was significant, marking the first time the Seminoles (20-9, 12-7) have recorded three straight 20-win seasons since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1991. In 2008, FSU finished 21-9 overall, then ended the 2009 campaign with an unprecedented 31-3 record before reaching its 20th win this season.
FSU received another huge boost from senior outside hitter Stephanie Neville, who compensated for the undermanned lineup by recording 14 kills, a .440 hitting percentage, five digs and four blocks. It was Neville’s second-highest hitting percentage effort in conference play this season, and the seventh-best percentage by an FSU player this season.
The Cambridge, Ontario, native found the right spots on her attacks throughout most of the day, committing just three errors in 25 total attacks. Since her tremendous 16-kill performance against Duke on Oct. 24, Neville has hit at a .312 clip with 98 kills and 2.8 kills per set over the team’s last nine matches.
Making her seventh start of the season was sophomore Fatma Yildirim, who had 10 kills and a .259 hitting percentage with six digs. The Istanbul, Turkey, native posted 11 kills and seven digs against the Eagles (8-24, 0-19) in the last meeting between both teams, and once again hurt them with several hard-hit kills that found openings in B.C.’s defense.
Visnja Djurdjevic displayed her versatility again with eight kills, eight digs and two service aces. She has recorded at least one service ace in 17 of FSU’s 29 matches this season, averaging a team-best 0.31 service aces per set.
Sophomore setter Duygu Duzceler helped guide FSU to a .269 hitting percentage, tallying 24 assists and adding six digs. Junior Patricia Figueiredo added 10 assists and seven digs, and libero Jenna Romanelli pitched in with 11 digs and four assists.
The Eagles had opportunities in the match, but were hurt by their 13 service errors, the second-highest total by an FSU opponent this season. On Oct. 29, Virginia Tech committed the most with 17.
Leading B.C. was outside hitter Tsvetelina Dureva, who had 11 kills. Setter Dani Moskitis added 38 assists, and senior Kristen Baader contributed with a team-high 16 digs.
Yildirim tallied a team-best four kills in the first frame as FSU battled a resilient Boston College squad. Neville added three kills and two blocks to ignite the offense. The Seminoles held a 10-6 lead on a kill by Yildirim, but B.C. later responded with a kill by Dureva to cut the deficit to 15-13. FSU rattled off six consecutive points late in the set, capped by an attack error by Rainey Hanley, and finished the set with a service error by Brennan Clark.
Duzceler had 11 assists in the second set to help her hitters tremendously. Neville had another strong frame with five kills and one block and Djurdjevic recorded two service aces and three kills. B.C. held tough once again, but FSU posted 14 kills compared to just four attacks errors. After being down 11-7, the Seminoles strung together seven straight points, as Neville finished the key stretch with a kill. The set ended on a block by Lauren Young and Ashley Neff to put FSU up by two sets.
The third set was another tussle, but the Seminoles were once again ignited by Neville’s six kills. B.C. hit .333 in the set, but was hurt by its six service errors. The Eagles held five-point advantages of 15-10, 18-13 and 19-14, but FSU managed to come back and tie the set at 23-23 on a big block from Yildirim and Sareea Freeman. Later, an attack error by Dureva ended the match to bolster FSU’s NCAA Tournament hopes with its 20th win.
With Miami’s 3-0 win against Maryland, FSU wraps up its regular-season home finale with third place in the ACC on the line against the Hurricane. The match is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 26, at 1 p.m. at Tully Gym.