In a competitive match between the two top teams in the conference, No. 23 Florida State lost its first ACC match of the season on Sunday, falling at home to No. 4 Pitt by the score of 15-25, 24-26, 25-14, 19-25.
Florida State’s 25-14 victory in the third set was just the ninth set that Pitt had lost this season, and by far the fewest points scored in a set this season by the Panthers (15-1, 4-0 ACC), as the previous low was 21 against both Pepperdine and Penn State.
Entering the weekend ranked seventh in the NCAA blocking with 2.94 per set, FSU (9-4, 3-1 ACC) improved on that mark with 18 blocks against the Panthers. It was the most blocks by the Noles since 17.5 blocks against Texas A&M on September 1, 2016.
Emma Clothier (11), Jasmyn Martin (7) and Lily Tessier (5) each recorded career highs in blocks, while Taryn Knuth and Payton Caffrey added six and four blocks, respectively. Clothier’s 11 blocks is tied for the fourth-most in a four-set match in the NCAA this season, and is also tied for sixth in FSU history in the rally-scoring era.
“We have been working on our block throughout the season, and are trying to do a better job of lining up,” said FSU coach Chris Poole. “When our blocks are going well, it helps the defense behind them.
“You can never relax in a set or a match, and it was a shame to not be able to close out the second set. I was really proud of how they came out in the third set and battled and played well. About half of this match we played well and about half of it we made too many errors, and you can’t do that against a team that is as well-coached and has the experience of Pitt.”
After Florida State started the first set with a kill by Caffrey, Pitt went on a run to take a 7-2 lead. The Seminoles got within four at 11-7, including a block from Knuth and Tessier, and kills from Martin and Clothier. The Panthers regained control of the set, scoring six of the next eight points to get in front 17-9. Madison Sullivan recorded her first kill of the season late in the set, but Pitt closed out the first frame, 25-15.
It was close to start the second set, as neither team had a two-point lead until Pitt went up 6-4. FSU then scored three straight points, including an ace by Caffrey and a block from Morgan Chacon and Clothier to tie the set at 7-7. The Seminoles used blocks from Knuth, Caffrey and Clothier to keep the set square at 14-14. Florida State took the lead on a block by Clothier and Martin at 17-16 and scored seven straight points, including an ace by Caffrey and two more blocks from Clothier and Martin, to take a 22-16 lead. Pitt fought off three set points by Florida State and scored the final five points of the set to earn a 26-24 win.
The Seminoles didn’t allow the disappointment of the end of the second set affect their performance in the third, as a kill by Clothier opened the third frame and a 6-0 scoring run expanded the Seminole lead to 10-6. The Seminoles led by as much five at 13-8 on kills by Caffrey and Chacon, along with an additional block by Clothier and Martin. Pitt cut the lead to three at 14-11, but Florida State extended the lead out to eight at 21-13 with a blocks by Knuth, Clothier and Tessier, along with kills by Knuth and Caffrey. Caffrey capped the set with her seventh kill of the match, giving FSU the 25-14 victory.
Neither team was able to establish control in the fourth set as highest lead for either team was two until Pitt made it 14-11. Caffrey and Clothier combined for a pair of blocks in the early going of the set, and the Noles added points on kills by Knuth and Caffrey. The Panthers went on a run through the middle of the set, scoring 10 of 13 points to post a 21-14 lead. The Seminoles cut the lead to four at 22-18 on a kill by Clothier before Pitt closed out the match with a 25-19 win.
Sophomore Taylor Roberts set a season high with 18 digs and Caffrey posted a team-high 12 kills, along with eight digs and two aces. Tessier led the team with 28 assists and added an ace as well.
The Seminoles will continue ACC play next weekend with a pair of road matches at NC State (6-10, 1-3 ACC) and North Carolina (4-9, 1-2 ACC) on Oct. 11 and 13, respectively. FSU will take on the Wolfpack on Friday at 7 p.m., while the ‘Noles and Tar Heels will meet on Sunday at noon.