Sept. 5, 2009

Courtesy of Florida State

LAS CRUCES, NM – Just hours after upsetting No. 8-ranked Illinois, the Florida State volleyball team made it a clean sweep of regular matches at the New Mexico State Tournament by beating the host Aggies in straight sets (25-17, 25-16, 25-21) Friday evening.

In earning the win over New Mexico State, FSU (5-1) claimed its second regular-season tournament crown of the young season as the team’s final match of the trip out west will be an exhibition against the Italian National Team on Saturday.

An exciting and long day for the Seminoles, head coach Chris Poole was very pleased with what he saw on the volleyball court in Las Cruces, NM.

“We came out a little flatter in the game against New Mexico State than we did against Illinois,” Poole said. “But that is to be expected coming off an emotional and hard-fought victory like the one we had earlier in the day. We looked fatigued and trailed in all three sets but we battled back each time.

“The key is that we are learning how to play in crucial matches and under pressure. We are very pleased with that.”

Senior outside hitter Mira Djuric paced the offensive attack for FSU against the Aggies (3-1) as she finished the match with a game-high 12 killls. She also added six digs and two blocks.

Junior Stephanie Neville and senior Brianna Barry both added eight kills apiece in the winning effort.

Freshman Fatma Yildirim notched a team-high 11 digs while Taylor Wilson – who replaced junior libero Jenna Romanelli after she sustained an ankle injury against the Illini – came within one dig of tying her career-high as she finished with 10.

Florida State had just one receiving error on the evening and finished with 41 digs compared to New Mexico State’s 26.

“We are very proud of the girls,” Poole said. “To come out here and be successful against two very good teams is definitely an accomplishment.”

FSU Sweeps No. 8 Illinois In New Mexico State Tournament Opener

LAS CRUCES, NM - The Florida State volleyball team needed just three sets (26-24, 25-22, 25-17) to upset No. 8 Illinois on Friday in the first match of the New Mexico State Tournament in Las Cruces, NM.

After nearly knocking off a top-five Florida squad earlier in the week, the fortune of the Seminoles (4-1) changed as they were able pull off victories against Illinois in the closely-contested first two sets before earning the decisive win in the final game.

The victory marks the first time since the 2002 season that an FSU volleyball team has taken down a ranked opponent. In that season, the Seminoles beat No. 11 North Carolina in five sets.

"The girls played incredible today.  I'm very proud of how hard they are working and they deserve the credit," head coach Chris Poole said. "Jenna (Romanelli) sprained her ankle before the match started, but Taylor (Wilson) stepped in and did an amazing job. With Jenna being out, that allowed Courtney Zuber to get her first college experience and she did a great job.

"Our hitters are getting more confident with our offense and our setters are making a lot of very good decisions."

Against the No. 8 Illini (2-1), junior Stephanie Neville slammed a team-high nine kills while freshman Fatma Yildirim and sophomore Rachael Morgan added seven apiece.

Senior Mira Djuric also contributed six kills and senior middle blockers Jordana Price and Brianna Barry registered four of their own. Senior setter Nikki Baker earned 19 assists while freshman Duygu Duzceler posted 15.

Defensively, junior Taylor Wilson held down the back row with a season-high seven digs. Yildirim also had seven digs and Morgan had four. Price and Morgan led FSU with three blocks each.

"With our win over No. 8 Illinois, we are literally one play away from beating two top-10 teams in a single week," Poole said. "If we stay healthy and continue to work hard, this team will continue to improve as the season progresses.  We know we have a very tough preseason schedule, but this schedule will help us prepare for the ACC whether we win or lose."

The Seminoles won't have much time to celebrate the outcome against Illinois as a matchup with host New Mexico State looms at 9 p.m. EST this evening. The results of that match will be available at tonight.