Tallahassee, FL - The 24th-ranked Florida State University volleyball team returns to Tallahassee to take on Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Wake Forest on Friday at 7 p.m. at Tully Gym. The match can be seen on Seminoles.com All-Access.
The Seminoles (14-5, 6-3) will be undermanned this weekend as they are forced to play without junior outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic, who is missing both matches due to a death in her family. The Zitiste, Serbia, native is statistically one of the top performers in the conference, being one of only three players in the ACC to rank in the Top five in kills per set, service aces and points.
In matches last weekend at Boston College and Maryland, Djurdjevic managed to put forth standout performances despite facing difficult circumstances. She finished with a season-high 21 kills against the Eagles, the most by any Seminole this season, and added 16 kills and 14 digs in a five-set loss against the Terrapins.
“This will be a very challenging weekend for our team,” head coach Chris Poole said. “We have been met with unexpected adversity this season and continue to fight every week. Our girls are working very hard. They are determined to give everything they have toward getting back to the NCAA Tournament.
“Visnja will be in our thoughts and prayers over the week and yet each player on this team is happy that she can be with her family right now,” Poole added. “This has definitely been a tough two weeks on every member of this team. I think there is a sense of wanting to step up for Vis this weekend in her honor.”
FSU will look to get even more production from outside hitters Stephanie Neville, Jekaterina Stepanova and Fatma Yildirim. Neville is second on the team with 167 kills, Stepanova trails with 146 and Yildirim is coming off a season-high 11 kills at Boston College.
Djurdjevic leads the Seminoles with 243 kills, and her 230 digs are only 38 behind senior libero Jenna Romanelli. Djurdjevic also has an impressive 10 double-doubles this year, slightly more than one for every two matches.
Romanelli, a Lighthouse Point, Fla., native, looks to make some personal history this weekend. She is just 13 digs away from tying former Seminole Joan Morris (1983-86) for 10th place on the school’s career list. Romanelli is also just 28 digs away from becoming the 10th player in school history to amass 1,000 career digs. Former player Summer Weissing (2004-07) was the last Seminole to reach the mark.
Junior right-side hitter Rachael Morgan hopes to continue her outstanding play, as she recorded a season-high .423 hitting percentage on 14 kills at Boston College and followed with 11 kills and a .375 clip at Maryland.
FSU has a nine-match winning streak on the line against the Demon Deacons (12-7, 5-4), its second-longest active streak against a conference opponent. FSU has not lost a match to Wake Forest since Oct. 21, 2005, when it fell in three sets in Winston Salem, N.C.
Wake Forest is tied for fourth in the conference with Miami and Maryland, while FSU holds sole possession of third place. Wake owns an impressive 3-0 victory at Georgia Tech, which has won six consecutive conference matches since that loss on Sept. 26.
“Wake Forest is having a great season. They are a team very similar to North Carolina in that they are very consistent and do not make a lot of mistakes,” Poole said. “They have beaten Georgia Tech and Maryland both, so they are doing a lot of things right. This is just a brutal ACC season, and is by far the deepest of any conference season in the past.
“We have to find a way to separate ourselves from the distractions off the court and try to find a way to get the victory. I have told the team, ‘Let's just find a way to win. Find a way to pull together and make things happen on the court.’ We need everyone to really step up right now and walk on the court with their emotions in check.
Wake’s Andrea Beck leads the team with a .345 hitting percentage, which is seventh in the conference. Junior outside hitter Kadija Fornah is sixth in the ACC with 3.24 kills per set, while she and Beck sit eighth and seventh, respectively, in the conference in points.
FSU will also hold its “Paint it Pink” match this weekend on Sunday, Oct. 24, at 1 p.m. against conference leader Duke at Tully Gym.