Florida State Edges Kentucky in Minneapolis Florida State squeaked past Kentucky in a 5-set thriller and is one win away from reaching its first-ever Final Four.
Florida State entered the 2009 Volleyball Championship with just one NCAA victory on its resume. After slipping past Kentucky in the Minneapolis Regional Friday night at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion the Seminoles are now just one win from reaching the Final Four.
But it's certainly wasn't easy and Big Blue gave the region's No. 3 seed all it wanted before bowing out in a 5-set thriller that ended with the Seminoles taking the final game by a score of 17-15.
Florida State (31-2), which won the match 16-25, 26-24, 25-17, 19-25, 17-15, advances to Saturday's regional final vs. the winner of the Game 2 between Minnesota and Colorado State. Kentucky (29-5), meanwhile, heads home after advancing to its first Sweet 16 since the NCAA expanded the tournament field to 64 teams.
Rachel Morgan tallied 15 kills and Mira Djuric added 13 for the Seminoles, who were out-hit .290 to .246 by Kentucky, but turned the game from the service line, where their six fewer services errors made a huge difference in this very tight match.
Kentucky, which had four players record double-figure kills led by Sarah Mendoza's match-leading 19, took the opening set before Florida State got it bearings and pulled things level.
The Seminoles began turning the tide during the second set, eking out a 26-24 win to tie the match at 1-1, despite hitting just .216.
Kentucky, which rolled to a 9-point win in set 1, looked to be well on its way to a 2-0 lead after running out to a 17-13 advantage. But Florida State ratcheted up its defense to level things at 20-20. Brianna Barry, who had nine kills for the match, broke the 24-24 deadlock before Djuric closed out the set with an ace.
The Seminoles carried their new-found momentum into the third game, cruising to a 25-17 win. FSU sprinted out to a 17-10 lead and never looked back as the Seminole front wall held the Wildcats to just 11 kills on 33 total attacks (.121) and capitalized on 66 percent of their 18 sideout opportunities.
But just when it looked like all was lost for Kentucky, the Wildcats clawed their way back into the match with a 25-19 win that saw Big Blue fall behind 6-1 early on. UK, though, ripped off 11 of the next 14 points, including seven in a row at one point. Blaire Hiller smashed four of her 15 kills during the run that had Kentucky fans smelling a spot in the Elite Eight.
The tide, however, had one final turn to take and it would end up back in FSU's favor before it was all said and done. The biggest lead of the fifth set was the Seminoles' 3-point edge at 11-8. UK rallied to tie at 12 and neither side could close things out until Neville's kill made it 16-15 and Jenna Romanelli's ace helped Florida State survive and advance.