TALLAHASSEE, Fl. — Despite holding an advantage over the Tar Heels in hitting percentage, blocks, and assists, as well as posting a 9-1 lead in the fifth set, Florida State (17-8, 10-5 ACC) was defeated on Sunday afternoon by North Carolina (14-11, 11-4 ACC) by the score of 23-25, 21-25, 25-17, 25-23, 13-15. The Seminoles also lost in five sets to UNC on October 13 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
“It was unbelievable,” said FSU head coach Chris Poole. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot throughout the first two sets, but came back and played really well in sets three and four. We had a commanding lead¬, as big of a lead as I may have ever had in a fifth set, only to lose it. Which, again, just goes to show our inconsistency. We have not done a good job of taking care of the ball at critical times and it was the difference in winning and losing the match today.”
North Carolina scored the first four points of the match, but the Seminoles were able to cut the UNC lead to 6-5 after kills by Morgan Chacon and Jasmyn Martin, along with a pair of blocks from Emma Clothier. FSU tied the set at 10-10 after a block from Taryn Knuth and Jessica Nunge, but the Tar Heels reopened a 16-12 lead. Kills from Martin and another block from Knuth and Nunge got FSU within two at 19-17, but UNC scored three in a row to take a five-point lead. The Seminoles scored five of the next six points on a kill by Chacon and a pair of blocks from Payton Caffrey and Clothier to get within one at 23-22. That was the closest FSU would get as North Carolina took the first set by the score of 25-23.
The second set was a back-and-forth battle which included 11 ties, six lead changes, and neither team led by more than two until UNC went up 23-20. Florida State scored four in a row on kills by Knuth and Chacon to take an early 5-3 lead, and a solo block by Knuth after a long rally kept the Noles in front at 8-7. UNC worked back to a 12-10 lead, before FSU tied it up again at 14-14 on a kill by Chacon. A service ace by Taylor Roberts, along with kills by Knuth and Caffrey gave the Seminoles an 18-16 lead, but the Tar Heels scored nine of the final 12 points in the set to take a 25-21 win.
The Seminoles bounced back and opened an early 10-4 lead in the third set behind kills by Caffrey, Chacon and Martin, along with a block by Knuth. UNC rallied with a 5-1 run to make it 13-10 in the middle of the set. Florida State used an 8-1 run with kills from Martin and Knuth, as well as blocks from Clothier to extend the lead back out to 22-12, before closing out the set with a 25-17 win.
UNC began the fourth set with a 3-1 lead and the Seminoles slowly came back to tie the set at 9-9 after kills by Caffrey, Knuth and Martin. FSU kept it close through the middle of the set, tying the set seven times on kills by Caffrey, Martin and Knuth, before a kill by Clothier gave FSU a 23-22 lead, its first lead since 1-0. Another kill by the freshman middle blocker, her fourth of the match, gave FSU the 25-53 win to force a fifth set.
FSU got out to an early lead in the final frame on a service ace by Lily Tessier, as well as an outstanding dig from Roberts which turned into an FSU point on a block by Clothier to make it 4-1 Noles. A kill and an ace from Caffrey, along with a block from Clothier and Martin was part of a 7-0 scoring run as FSU took a 9-1 lead. The Tar Heels rallied with an 11-2 run to take the lead 13-12, and closed out the match with a 15-13 victory.
Knuth led the Seminole offensive with 12 kills and zero errors for a .632 hitting percentage, while Martin tallied a career-high 18 kills at a .484 clip. Chacon (15) and Caffrey (14) also finished with double-digit kills, while Tessier set a career high with 39 assists. Clothier ended with 10 blocks, three solo, marking the second time this season that the freshman has recorded 10 or more blocks in a match.
Florida State will travel north this week to take on No. 2 Pitt (26-1, 15-0 ACC) for its next match on Friday, November 22. The Noles and Panthers will play at 6:00 p.m., and the match will be broadcast nationally on ACC Network.