The Daily Nole

FSU Volleyball Controls Own Destiny in ACC

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A rough non-conference that left Florida State volleyball sitting at just 4-6 seems to have paid dividends in conference play.

With just three matches remaining in the regular season, FSU essentially controls its own destiny to win the ACC. At 13-2 in conference play, FSU sits just one game behind Pittsburgh and the Panthers will come to Tallahassee for what will be Florida State’s Senior Day on Friday night.

Pittsburgh is 14-1, but the remaining slate may be slightly more daunting than FSU’s. After Friday night’s contest, the Panthers visit Miami before concluding the year against Georgia Tech at home.

Miami is 9-7 this season in ACC play while the Yellow Jackets are 5-10. Compare that to Florida State who plays North Carolina, which is tied for the worst record in conference at 3-12 and NC State, who currently sits at 7-8.

Since the start of ACC play, Florida State has really hit its stride. Junior Payton Caffrey has led the Seminoles with an ACC-leading 4.35 kills per set and is the only player in the conference with more than 400 kills this season. Caffrey also ranks third on the team in digs.

Seniors have played a large role in FSU’s success this season. Christina Ambrose ranks second on the team in digs while Brianne Burkert is the team leader in assists at 6.05 per set. Kelsey Wicinski, the senior libero, leads the team with 4.38 digs per set — good for third in the ACC.

At 6-foot-3, sophomore Taryn Knuth has been a force defensively at the new with an ACC-leading 1.68 blocks per set. She also ranks fifth in the conference with a .357 hitting percentage.

Due largely in part to a tough non-conference, FSU has been unable to crack the top 25 of the AVCA Poll this season but did receive 15 votes this week. Prior to the start of ACC play, Florida State faced five teams from Power 5 conferences and three currently ranked in the top 15.

If FSU is able to win out, it will clinch at least a share of the ACC title. Should Florida State win out and the Seminoles serve as Pittsburgh’s only loss down the stretch, point differential head-to-head will determine the conference champion and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Seminoles lost to the Panthers on Sept. 30 in four sets, 25-21, 20-25, 13-25, 17-25. That amounts to a differential of -21, which will be a tall order for FSU to make up. That would require FSU to win by an average of seven points in a straight-set victory. The Panthers have lost just one set by seven or more all season.

Friday’s contest between FSU and Pittsburgh takes place at 6:30 p.m. EST on Friday at Tully Gymnasium and will air on ACC Network Extra. The Seminoles haven’t won the ACC since 2012.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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