TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – The 15th-ranked Florida State indoor volleyball team suffered a rare loss in Tully Gym, falling to No. 23 Ohio State, 3-1 (29-27, 24-26, 14-25, 20-25), in front of a capacity crowd of 1,250 at the Four Points by Sheraton Seminole Invitational on Friday night.
Ohio State used a suffocating defense that made it very difficult for the Seminoles (2-2) to find holes to attack. Florida State recorded a .158 attack percentage in the loss, which is its second straight defeat at Tully Gym after falling to Purdue in the NCAA Second Round to end the 2012 season.
“I think the girls came out and almost started relaxing too much,” head coach Chris Poole said. “Our minds started drifting, we started letting them dictate the pace of the game, and even though we fought really hard the first two, that third set really set the tone for the rest of the match. We never really could get ourselves back into it.”
Leading the undefeated Buckeyes (5-0), whom also defeated No. 16 Western Kentucky earlier in the day, was senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary. The Parma, Ohio native blasted Florida State with 27 kills, the most by an FSU opponent since former Miami All-American Lane Carico tallied 29 kills on Nov. 26, 2011.
The difficult early-season schedule for a team that lost four invaluable seniors proved tough on Friday night. Ohio State recorded a .281 hitting percentage with three student-athletes totaling double-digit kill figures. Ohio State added 10 team blocks and kept many rallies alive in their favor by tipping Florida State’s attack repeatedly.
Senior right-side hitter Elise Walch was a consistent force again, totaling 12 kills in 27 attacks for a .296 hitting percentage. The Stuart, Fla. native added four blocks, while senior Ashley Neff and redshirt freshman middle blocker Sarah Burrington each had seven blocks to lead the team.
Redshirt junior libero Katie Mosher recorded 22 digs in the match, moving her into sixth place on the career digs list with 1,162 as she passed Florida State great Nancy Gaspadarek. Mosher is now 24 digs away from the fifth-place spot owned by all-around great Maggie Philgence.
It was exhausting enough for Florida State to outlast Ohio State in the opening set, a thrilling 29-27 win for the Seminoles. Having set point and a 24-22 lead, Florida State surrendered consecutive kills by Kylie Randall to knot the frame at 24-24. Over the next four rallies, Florida State and Ohio State traded points as Elise Walch capped it with a big kill to tie things at 26-26.
A service error by Ohio State tied the set once again at 27-27, and senior Olivera Medic took over with back-to-back service aces to give Florida State the opening frame.
The second set was close midway through, as Elise Walch’s kill off a nice set from junior Sarah Wickstrom tied the frame at 16-16. Ohio State would go on to win four of the next five points, but Florida State managed to stay within striking distance and even tied the set on an attack error from Andrea Kacsits. A timeout by the Buckeyes prompted two straight points for Ohio State, but Florida State stayed relentless and used an attack error by Erin Sekinger to tie the set at 24-24.
Randall would finish off Florida State in the second set with consecutive kills to tie the match at 1-1.
The Buckeyes stepped up defensively in the final two sets, holding the Seminoles to a -.121 hitting percentage in the third and .200 in the fourth. Ohio State led the whole way to take the third set handily, then pulled away late in the fourth as Leary’s kill ended the match. The loss snapped Florida State’s 24-match win streak at home in regular-season contests.
Another opportunity for a Top 25 win awaits for FSU as it faces No. 16 Western Kentucky on Saturday at noon at Tully Gym. The Seminoles finish the Four Points by Sheraton Invitational Saturday evening against FGCU at 7 p.m.
Follow Florida State indoor volleyball on Seminoles.com as well as on the team’s official Twitter (@FSU_Volleyball) and Facebook pages (Facebook.com/FSUVolleyball).