Preview: Development of freshmen a key storyline for FSU volleyball

With six freshmen on a roster of 13, the Florida State volleyball team is as young as any in decades. The Seminoles have no shortage of talented newcomers but gaining comfort and chemistry on the court, especially early in the year, will be a critical storyline.

“We are spending a lot of time just trying to get the team to know each other better on and off the court,” FSU coach Chris Poole said. “We are making sure the freshmen have what they need; that they understand the routines we need to be into. It is the youngest team I’ve personally had since 1994, and the youngest team at Florida State since 1999.”

When FSU opens the 2021 fall season on Friday with a tournament at LSU, there will be a learning curve for nearly half the team. The Seminoles played a scrimmage against Florida A&M, but this will be the first college match experience for the newcomers.

The NCAA didn’t allow the freshmen to compete in the spring season, which negated any chance the Seminoles had to develop experience for the fall. FSU is projected to finish fifth in the ACC in a poll of the league’s coaches.

“We’re on the younger side this year but they’ve just been working so hard in practice,” junior Emma Clothier said. “I’m just trying to communicate to them effectively, making sure we’re on the same page so we can achieve that common goal of winning an ACC championship. It’s definitely been an interesting year so far but I’m excited for what the season has.”

FSU opens on Thursday at 4 p.m. against Northern Arizona, followed by a match against Michigan on Saturday at 11 a.m. and LSU on Sunday at 9 p.m. The LSU match is tentatively set to be streamed live on SEC Network+.

The Seminoles will play their home opener against Tulane on Sept. 2 in the Seminole Volleyball Invitational. 

Potential starters: 5-11 Jr. Morgan Chacon, 6-3 Fr. Audrey Koenig, 6-3 Jr. Lily Tessier, 6-3 Fr. Khori Louis, 5-9 Sr. Caroline Golden, 6-1 So. Sydney Conley, 6-2 Jr. Emma Clothier.

Loaded with freshmen: FSU’s roster is nearly 50 percent comprised of freshmen, the most since the Seminoles had 7 of 14 freshmen on the roster in 1999.

Honors: Chacon was an All-ACC and all-region pick for FSU in 2020. Clothier is a preseason All-ACC pick. Golden transferred from Southeastern Louisiana.

Tough schedule: FSU will play a number of preseason ranked teams, including No. 6 Florida, No. 9 Pittsburgh, No. 13 Louisville, No. 24 Georgia Tech (twice) and No. 25 Notre Dame (twice).

Coach: Chris Poole has 194 career ACC wins. He has reached the NCAA Tournament in each season between 2009-19, with the exception being a COVID-shortened 2020 season.