Continuing its undefeated start in conference play, No. 23 Florida State (9-3, 3-0 ACC) posted a four-set victory over Virginia (9-7, 1-2 ACC) on Friday night by the score of 25-19, 25-14, 17-25, 25-22.
The Seminoles were led by redshirt freshman Morgan Chacon, who finished with a .414 hitting percentage and 15 kills. The outside hitter did not commit an attacking error until the third set, after recording 11 kills on her first 18 attacks. Senior Payton Caffrey recorded a team-high 20 kills on the night as the Noles ended with a .349 hitting percentage.
“I thought we played pretty well, for the most part, in the first two sets,” said FSU coach Chris Poole. “We played really well in the second set, so it was disappointing the way we fell off in the third set, and came out so flat in the fourth. I think the team realized they needed to step up and take control, and I was glad to see us finish the way we did. But certainly, we will need to continue to get better and need to be able to eliminate mistakes.”
It was an offensive start to the first set as both team were hitting over .400 through the middle of the first set, as neither team managed to take more than a two-point lead until a Virginia attack error gave Florida State a 19-16 lead. The Seminoles controlled the final portion of the set, including kills from Taryn Knuth and Chacon, and the duo combined on a block to give FSU the first set, 25-19.
Caffrey gave the Seminoles an 11-8 lead in the second set after three consecutive kills. Florida State grew its lead to 18-10 after a 6-0 run, which included kills from Chacon and Marissa Stockman. The Noles continued to dominate offensively, posting a .567 hitting percentage for the entire second set, taking a 2-0 lead on a 25-14 win.
Virginia opened the third set with a 5-0 run and the Seminoles worked back into the set, making it 8-6 after a kill from Chacon. Despite aces from Caffrey and Taylor Roberts, along with a pair of blocks from Knuth, the Seminoles would not get any closer as Virginia took the third set, 25-17.
It was back and forth to start the fourth set, until Virginia used a 3-0 run to take a 6-3 lead. The Noles posted kills from Knuth and Caffrey, but the Cavaliers expanded its lead to 14-7 in the middle of the set. The Seminoles scored the next four points to cut the UVA lead to 14-11, including back-to-back aces from Roberts. Florida State continued to rally, scoring six consecutive points to take the lead at 18-17 on Caffrey’s 18th kill of the match. Highlighted by a kill from Jasmyn Martin, the Noles scored three of the last four points to secure the victory with a 25-22 win.
Knuth was errorless on the attack with five kills and added four blocks, while Lily Tessier finished with a career-high 34 assists. Roberts set a career high with three service aces and finished with a season-high 10 digs, while Martin and Emma Clothier ended with seven and six kills, respectively.
The Seminoles will wrap up the weekend with a home match against No. 4 Pitt (14-1, 3-0 ACC) on Sunday at noon. The contest between two top 25 teams will air nationally on ACC Network.
FSU women’s cross country take third at Notre Dame
The weather and course conditions were perfect and the depth of talent at Friday’s Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational all but guaranteed fast times.
Rising to the occasion, the Florida State women’s and men’s cross country teams delivered performances well above their projected finishes, highlighted by the third-place showing by the No. 17 Noles women.
“I’ve got to tell you I was a little surprised,” said FSU women’s coach Kelly Phillips. “I wasn’t expecting third, but I’ll take it.
“They’ve been training hard and all the pieces are there, but when it’s your first real race it could have gone a lot of different ways and a lot of bad. They went out a little bit harder than I would have liked, but they held it together. It was exciting to watch.”
FSU’s men finished 10th in the field of 22 teams, defeating No. 13 Colorado State, No. 18 Wyoming and No. 29 Alabama. Grad transfer Kasey Knevelbaard led the way, placing 19th in a personal-best 23:46.04 in his fourth competition on the 5-mile course.
The story of the day, however, was the performance of the Noles women.
Racing for the first time since Aug. 30, the FSU women took down nine nationally ranked opponents, finishing with 129 points and trailing only champion Utah (110 points) and defending NCAA champion Colorado (116). In the process the Noles defeated No. 2 New Mexico, No. 6 Washington and three-time defending ACC champions, No. 8 NC State and No. 9 Wisconsin.
They also counted victories over No. 12 Notre Dame, No. 14 Ole Miss – ranked No. 1 and one spot ahead of the Noles in the South Region – as well as No. 16 Iowa State.
“We came in ranked eighth [among teams in the field] and came away third,” said junior Maudie Skyring, who finished 17th(16:41.56) over the 5,000-meter course. “We beat some very, very good teams…This was a big sort of rust-buster for us; our first race against competition. Coming out and seeing where we can be and how we placed in the nation is very exciting. We’ve got some very big goals now. Top 10 at nationals is definitely achievable for us.
“We’re going to go home and put in a lot of work now, because everyone is going to keep getting better.”
The performance all but secures the Noles a spot at the NCAA Championships as an at-large team, something Phillips didn’t even consider.
“I didn’t really think about that, but I’m hoping it doesn’t matter,” Phillips said. “Last year’s goal was to get to nationals and this year’s goal is to do well at nationals. They showed today that they mean it.”