Eagles and Seminoles to Meet Friday in NCAA Tournament
The Eagles enter Friday’s match with a 27-8 (14-2 SoCon), while the Seminoles, who finished fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, sit at 21-10 (12-8 ACC).
Georgia Southern plowed through the opposition in the SoCon Tournament, capping off the run with a 3-0 win over College of Charleston to earn the league’s automatic bid to the postseason.
Pacing GSU are junior hitters Bethany Sanford (Avondale, Ariz.) and Parker Small (Charlotte, N.C.). Sanford leads the Eagles with 3.48 kills per set and ranks second with 2.69 digs per set, while Small’s .378 hitting percentage, the highest single-season percentage in GSU history, and 117 total blocks (12 solos/105 assists) are tops in the categories.
Setter Kate Van Dyke (Shawnee, Kan.), named MVP of the SoCon Tournament, leads Georgia Southern with 1,423 assists, averaging 10.78 per set – both GSU single season records. The sophomore sits in third place in Eagle history for career assists with 2,652 through two seasons.
The Eagles, winners of 24 of their last 26 matches, are riding a five-match winning streak that dates back to November 9. Earlier this season, GSU strung together runs of nine and 10 wins in a row.
"This match will be a great challenge for our program," noted Eagle volleyball head coach Chad Callihan. "From the little I have seen so far, FSU is a physical team that takes up great space with their block. They have a variety of attacking options that do not allow us to key in on one or two players. They seem to be a pretty low error team, which means very little will be given to us."
Leading Florida State is junior outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic with 3.42 kills and 3.04 digs per set. Setters Duygu Duzceler and Patricia Figueiredo have dished out 5.87 and 4.78 assists per set, respectively.
"Beyond the physical match-ups, I believe the mental game will be just as important," Callihan added. "This is uncharted territory for the majority of our team as we only have one player [Ashley Roe] on our roster who has ever been to the NCAA tournament. While we lack experience playing in the NCAA tournament, I am never concerned about this team's competitive spirit. This is a group that generally rises to the occasion and plays their best ball on the big stage."
Friday’s match will mark the third meeting between the Eagles and Seminoles, though it is the first time the teams will meet on a neutral court. FSU holds a 2-0 series advantage after 3-0 sweeps in 1990 and 1997 in Tallahassee.
This weekend’s match will be Georgia Southern’s third trip to volleyball’s version of the Big Dance. Last time the Eagles reached the NCAA postseason was in 2003 when GSU dropped a 3-0 decision to Florida in Gainesville. Previously, Georgia Southern faced Pepperdine in Chapel Hill, N.C., in 2001, falling 3-0.
The winner of Friday evening’s match will move on to face the winner of South Carolina State versus Regional host and No. 1 overall seed Florida in the second round on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
For more information, including links to ticket prices, live stats and all four schools participating in the Gainesville Regional, click here.
- Category: Volleyball
- Published on Tuesday, 30 November 2010 17:29