Tallahassee, FL - Senior middle blocker Sareea Freeman recorded one of the best matches of her career as she guided the 14th-ranked Florida State indoor volleyball team past rival Duke on Sunday afternoon, 3-1 (25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 25-16) in front of 1,102 fans at Tully Gym.
Fueled by her excellent play as of late, the Fresno, Calif. native impressed a capacity crowd once again with a dominant display of hitting that Duke could not stop all afternoon. Freeman tied her career high with 14 kills and registered a career best .722 hitting percentage as she connected on nearly all of her swings from the middle.
Freeman’s .722 hitting percentage is the second highest of the season by a Seminole with at least 10 kills. In Florida State’s 3-1 win over Wake Forest on Friday, fellow middle blocker Ashley Neff registered a team-best .769 hitting percentage on 10 kills in 13 attacks.
“We knew coming into the season that one of the strengths of our team should be the middle blocking position,” head coach Chris Poole said. “I thought today both our middle blockers stepped up really well and we’ve been working on them a lot in practice. (Assistant coach) Gokhan Yilmaz is doing a good job of getting our middles up and using the attack more often and we were able to do that.
“We’ve got to really have that middle attack for us. A key point is if we can keep our passing and defense at a high level, we’ve got to get the passes there for our middles to be effective. If we aren’t getting our passes there, we can’t have a middle attack. The key for us is to get more chemistry and continuity within the balance of the team.”
Freeman added six blocks in Sunday’s match and finished with a match-high 17.5 points overall. It is the third time in her career she has registered 14 kills in a contest, totaling the same amount against Wake Forest and Miami in road matches last season.
Giving the senior middle blocker several good chances for quality attacks was sophomore setter Sarah Wickstrom, who recorded 24 assists and formed a strong tandem with her hitter throughout the match. Wickstrom, who hails from Stuart, Fla., added 10 digs for her second double-double of the season.
Neff once again displayed her offensive capabilities, generating 10 kills in 22 swings and recording a .364 hitting percentage. The Kennesaw, Ga., native added seven blocks and pushed her total blocks for the season to 80 in just 14 matches played. In Florida State’s two matches this weekend, Neff recorded 20 kills in 35 attacks for a .514 hitting clip.
Freeman also stamped herself as the primary focus for this weekend, leading the Seminoles (12-2, 4-1) with 24 kills, three kills per set and a .688 hitting percentage in wins over Wake Forest and Duke.
Contributing in a big way against the Blue Devils (9-7, 0-4) was junior right-side hitter Elise Walch. The Stuart, Fla., native had 10 kills and a .300 hitting percentage while adding two blocks. Junior right-side Marija Milosavljevic stepped up once again with seven blocks and eight kills.
Overall, Florida State recorded a .302 hitting percentage as a team. It was the seventh time in 14 matches this year that the Seminoles went above the .300 mark on offense. The Seminoles also racked up 13 total blocks, tied for the third highest this season.
Duke was held to a .174 hitting clip in Sunday’s match, the 12th opponent this season that has registered below a .200 hitting percentage against the Seminoles. Christiana Gray produced a team-best 13 kills while outside hitter Jeme Obeime converted on 11 kills.
The Seminoles now own an 18-match winning streak at Tully Gym, having not lost in their home facility since Nov. 26, 2010. Florida State has won four consecutive home matches against the Blue Devils.
Florida State returns home for two more matches next weekend, facing North Carolina on Friday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. The Seminoles then host conference leader N.C. State on Sunday at 1 p.m.