Despite improving throughout the match, including taking a 19-18 lead late in the third set, Florida State (0-1) dropped its first contest of the 2019 season in straight sets (15-25, 22-25, 23-25) to No. 5 Wisconsin (1-0) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on the campus of North Carolina.
The Badgers outhit the Seminoles (.308 to .000) in the first set, but Wisconsin’s hitting percentage dropped to .242 and .196 in the second and third set, while FSU’s improved to .182 in the second and .231 in the third.
Senior Payton Caffrey led the way for the Noles, coming up a kill short of a double-double on nine kills and 12 digs. Junior Taryn Knuth and Emma Clothier each recorded a .400 hitting percentage on seven and five kills, respectively, while Adrian Ell and Lily Tessier each posted 13 assists.
“The first match of the season always brings uncertainty,” said FSU head coach Chris Poole. “Disappointed in the first set, but really proud of the fight we showed at the end of set two and all of set three. Wisconsin is a legit top-5 program, and we got stronger and more competitive as the match progressed. We played five players that weren’t on the court last year for us, and four of them were freshmen. We will learn from our mistakes and get better.”
Wisconsin used an efficient offense to take a 25-15 win in the first set for an early lead. The Seminoles and Badgers traded points throughout the start of the set and a block by FSU’s Morgan Chacon and Emma Clothier cut Wisconsin’s lead to 11-10. But the Badgers closed out the opening frame with a 14-5 run, including three kills from Dana Rettke.
The Seminoles started strong in the second set, taking a 5-3 lead early on behind a pair of service aces by Chacon. Wisconsin quickly recovered and went on a 10-0 run to make it 15-6. Florida State continued to battle and put together a pair of four-point runs to cut the lead to three at 22-19 after a kill by Jessica Nunge. After Wisconsin got to set point at 24-19, kills from Payton Caffrey and Jasmyn Martin, along with a block by Martin and Clothier, got the Noles within two before the Badgers wrapped up the set at 25-22.
Florida State got out to a 3-1 lead in set three after a kill by Martin, but Wisconsin look the lead back after a four-point streak. The Seminoles worked back into the match and tied the set at 15-15 on a block by Clothier and Deja Williams. Florida State took the lead back at 19-18 on a kill by Clothier and neither team held more than a one-point lead until Wisconsin reached set point at 24-22. Knuth’s seventh kill of the match kept the set going, but the Badgers ended the set, and the match, with a 25-23 win in the third.
“It’s a short turnaround to match up against the No. 3 team in the country in Minnesota, but we wanted this challenge and just need to get more consistent,” added Poole.
The Seminoles wrap up the 2019 ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Saturday with a match against No. 3 Minnesota (0-0) at 3:30 p.m. The match will be streamed on ACC Network Extra.