ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida State volleyball team (19-9, 15-3 ACC) ended its season in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night, falling to the No. 16 Florida Gators (25-6, 15-3 SEC) in the First Round. The second-seeded Gators swept three-seed Florida State at UCF’s campus site, marking Florida State’s first loss to Florida in the postseason since 2010.
Junior outside hitter Payton Caffrey, the ACC Player of the Year, led FSU’s offense with 14 kills, hitting .275 in the match. The Seminoles’ defensive effort was led by senior libero Kelsey Wicinski with 14 digs, and three blocks from both redshirt senior Christina Ambrose and sophomore Taryn Knuth.
The Seminoles saw their 19th straight winning season in 2018, and made the NCAA Tournament for the 10th consecutive season – making them one of only 11 teams in the nation to accomplish the feat. The team went into the postseason sitting above 30 in the RPI for the 10th straight season, and finished as one of the top two teams in the conference for the 13th time in program history.
Set 1 – UF 25, FSU 21
The beginning of the opening set stayed tight as both teams used smart plays to put the ball down and pick up points, but an inability to return Florida’s attacks kept the Seminoles behind on the scoreboard. FSU’s defense started clicking in the last half of the set, as the Seminoles were able to keep the ball alive and slow down Florida’s tough offense.
While the Seminoles were able to hang in the set until the end, it was errors on both serving and serve receive that gave the Gators the points they needed to finish the set and take a 1-0 lead in the match.
Set 2 – UF 25, FSU 20
The Seminoles started off the second set strong, gaining an early lead with kills from Caffrey and Ashley Murray, and an assisted block from the pair. Attack errors and service errors highlighted the first half of the set, but a 3-0 scoring run fueled by two kills and a block helped them regain a lead that they never surrendered.
While Caffrey’s seven kills in the set helped the Seminoles’ offense stay strong against Florida’s large offensive presence, a more consistent execution from the Gators’ front line helped them outhit the Seminoles and stay ahead throughout the set.
Set 3 – UF 25, FSU 13
The beginning of the third set stayed close, as Florida picked up more kills than the Seminoles, but also more errors. The Seminoles saw more success getting the point on scrappy rallies and didn’t pick up a single unforced hitting error, but Florida’s consistency helped them maintain the lead as they continued to outhit the Seminoles.
Florida controlled nearly every point until the end of the set, going on a 10-1 run to reach 20 points, only surrendering a point on an attack error. From there, a 5-2 run from the Gators helped them close out the match and advance to the Second Round.
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