Volleyball 'Noles tame Panthers, 3-0

Posted at 6:21 PM, Oct 13, 2013
and last updated 2015-03-04 17:31:28-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.  – The 21st-ranked Florida State indoor volleyball team enjoyed its third-straight 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-20) sweep at Tully Gym on Sunday afternoon by defeating Pitt on ‘Paint it Pink’ Sunday.

The Seminoles move to 12-5 (5-1 ACC) while the Panthers drop to 11-8 (3-3 ACC). The victory marks the 20th-consecutive home win over an ACC opponent for FSU, which hasn’t lost a home match against conference competition since Nov. 26, 2010.

“Any time we’re playing in this situation to where we need to move the players around a bit and deal with adversity, you don’t know how a team is going to pick up and how they are going to finish,” head coach Chris Poole said. “But I felt like in each set we made good plays at the end that made the difference in winning or losing. We have to expect ourselves to rise to the occasion and finish off sets.”

Once again, senior middle blocker Ashley Neff recorded an outstanding performance as she led the attack with a high .833 hitting percentage behind 10 kills while adding six blocks. Her strong day highlighted FSU’s .393 hitting mark.

“We’ve been focusing on cutting down our errors,” Neff said. “We just made smarter plays. It really worked for us.”

Neff’s classmate, right-side hitter Elise Walch, stepped up for the Seminoles by registering 11 kills and one block. The Stuart, Fla., native attacked with a .647 hitting percentage and routinely put down the ball with execution from the right side.

“It’s important to us as seniors to step up,” Walch said. “It was great to be home and I’m excited that we got the two sweeps this weekend. It’s what we needed.”

Sophomore outside hitter Nicole Walch contributed eight of the 45 Seminole kills while registering a trio of blocks. She added a sound .278 hitting clip as Florida State used a balance attack to defeat new league opponent Pitt.

Freshman setter Hailey Luke recorded 20 assists, while junior setter Sarah Wickstrom produced 21.

The match started off with the Seminoles trailing for most of the first set and by as many as four points on two occasions. The first tie of the set came at 21-21 thanks to a block by Neff and Nicole Walch. Florida State took the first lead at 22-21 after an attack error on the Panthers. FSU closed the set at 25-22 while on a 7-2 run, using another block by Neff and Nicole Walch to end the frame.

In the second set, the score was tied 12 times and the lead changed eight times. FSU opened with a 12-6 lead before Pitt called a timeout. After the break, the Panthers mustered a 9-1 run, taking over the lead 15-13. Pitt stayed in front for a few points before the Seminoles took back the lead at 18-17. The Panthers hung around before FSU closed out the set 25-23, using 12 kills and a high .471 hitting mark to go up 2-0 overall.

With the score tied 5-5 in the third set, the teams traded runs as FSU struck first with a 6-2 rally before Pitt answered with a 6-3 charge of their own to pull within one at 13-12. The Seminoles stayed in front with the Panthers lingering before sprinting to the finish, capping off the match with a 7-2 run. The ‘Noles kept the Pitt hitting in check by holding it to a .216 mark in the final frame.

The Seminoles will host conference rival Miami at 8 p.m. on Wednesday and the match will be televised on ESPNU. Adam Amin and Maria Taylor will provide the commentary for the annual rivalry between the ‘Noles and ‘Canes.

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