These are just notes to keep you up to date on some topics that may be of interest to Florida State fans. I will also include my take where appropriate. The topics are in no particular order.
(4) Florida State finished the season falling to (1) UCLA 3-1 in the championship dual last Sunday in Gulf Shores, AL. The Seminoles finished the season at 33-7 and will finish the season ranked second in the final national polls.
However, the season ended in a bit of controversy. The national tournament was billed as “double elimination” but Florida State was the only team eliminated with only one dual loss. UCLA also had one dual loss (to FSU) but the Bruins were crowned the champions. In fact, both FSU and UCLA ended the tournament dropping the same number of sets (7).
In light of these facts it seems that the fair and equitable thing to do would have been to play a rubber dual between FSU and UCLA after the Bruins beat the Seminoles in the championship round dual. It’s hard to definitively say why this wasn’t done but it seems that the format was chosen to placate the sport’s television partner (ESPN).
ESPN televised the final tournament on its family of networks. The championship dual was broadcast live on Sunday and ESPN allocated a two hour block in its schedule to accommodate it.
Throughout the tournament the duals were structured so that all five pairs would play at the same time. Using this format each dual finished in approximately one hour. For the championship dual the format was changed so that the #4 and #5 pairs went first (FSU won the #4 pair and lost the #5 pair) and the #1, #2, and #3 pairs went second. Using this format the dual would fit comfortably in the two hour time block allocated by ESPN. Unfortunately this format meant that if FSU lost there would be no time for a tie-breaker match. Therefore the Seminoles were put in a position where they could be eliminated with only one loss and unhappily that is just what happened.
FSU will also send three pairs to the USA volleyball collegiate beach championships in Hermosa Beach, CA. The pairs representing FSU will be Tory Paranagua and Vanessa Freire, Katie Horton and Hailey Luke, and Sara Putt and Macy Jerger. The Noles will be competing in a 32 team bracket for the right to represent the USA at the 2018 FISU World University Championship.
FSU had a fantastic season. Head coach Brooke Niles and her staff have turned Florida State into arguably the best program on the east coast. It is also a program that can beat anyone nationally as the Noles proved by beating (1) UCLA, (3) Hawaii and (5) USC on the way to the national championship dual.
The Seminoles will have to replace their top two pairs as Paranagua, Freire, Horton and Luke are all seniors. However, Niles has recruited well in her time in Tallahassee and the remaining talent on the roster should insure that the Noles won’t drop too far - if at all - from their current lofty standing.
Florida State has wrapped up the regular season on the diamond finishing with a 44-10 (21-3, ACC) regular season record. The Noles finished the regular season last week by sweeping NC State in Raleigh outscoring the Wolfpack 17-1 in the process.
FSU is currently ranked ninth in the ESPN poll, tenth in the USA Today poll and sixth in the RPI. The Seminoles also claimed their sixth straight ACC regular season crown. FSU is therefore the top seed in the ACC Tournament. Florida State will attempt the win the tournament for the fifth straight time. If the Noles can accomplish this feat they will very likely earn a top 8 NCAA seed and therefore be able to host a super-regional.
Florida State is a very balanced team. The Noles rank second in the conference in batting average (Louisville) and first in ERA, fielding percentage and slugging. Nationally the Seminoles are tenth in ERA, 46th in batting average, 12th in slugging and fifth in fielding percentage.
Individually FSU has been just as impressive. Jessie Warren has been battling a lingering ankle injury but despite that she is enjoying another ACC player of the year type season. The senior is second in the ACC in batting (.403) and first in slugging (.868), homeruns (16) and RBI (54). Her next homerun will give her 79 for her career which will tie her for 10th all-time in NCAA competition. She is doing all this despite missing seven games due to the ankle injury.
Freshman Sydney Sherrill is a budding superstar. She is fifth in the ACC in batting (.373), fourth in RBI (43) and third in slugging (.675). She has also set the team record for doubles (24) and is first nationally in that category. She will take the baton from Warren next year as FSU’s next great hitter.
Carsyn Gordon has been enjoying a breakout year. The junior is hitting .346 with 9 homers (7th ACC) and 44 RBI (3rd ACC). She is also fourth in the conference in slugging (.647).
In the circle the Noles have one of the best one-two punches in the nation with Kylee Hanson (25-4) and Meghan King (17-6). The pair rank one-two in the ACC in ERA (Hanson .94 and King 1.32). Hanson is ninth nationally and King is 23rd. Hanson is a graduate transfer from Florida Atlantic. This will be her final year of eligibility.
FSU has reached this point with its usual combination of exceptional fielding, timely hitting, stingy pitching and aggressive running on the basepaths. As always the questions will revolve around the schedule. Simply put, the ACC is not a softball conference. Head coach Lonni Alameda realizes this and has put together the toughest non-conference schedule in the nation. FSU has wins over #16 Michigan, #27 Minnesota, #13 Alabama, #2 Oregon, #21 Louisiana, and #4 Florida. This has kept FSU’s RPI so high.
Florida State is not the most talented team in the nation but the Noles are not that far off. This team is hungry to avenge last season’s disappointing loss in the Super Regionals and if they get hot at the right time they could do that and much more.
The Noles will start the postseason tomorrow at 11am against (8) Louisville (33-19, 10-12 ACC) in the ACC tournament in Atlanta. The Cardinals advanced by beating Syracuse today 2-1.
Florida State finished the season in disappointing fashion losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament. However, the program remains very healthy under the direction of head coach Sue Semrau.
Since the season ended FSU had a shakeup on the coaching staff. Longtime assistant Lance White accepted the head coaching job at Pitt. Today White officially announced that he is hiring former FSU assistant Danielle Atkinson to be his associate head coach.
Florida State has responded to these losses by promoting former Seminole star Brooke Wyckoff to be associate head coach and hiring Joy McCorvey from Michigan and JC Carter from Utah State.
FSU must replace five senior starters from last year’s team. That is a daunting task but fortunately the Noles will welcome a top five recruiting class in 2018 featuring five top 100 players.
Izabela Nicoletti fell from #6 to #16.
Kourtney Weber fell from #35 to #51.
Valencia Myers fell from #40 to #63.
Morgan Jones fell from #64 to #66.
Amaya Brown fell from #82 to #99.
2019 commits also dropped in the rankings.
Sammie Puisis fell from #13 to #21.
River Baldwin fell from #32 to outside the top 60. Baldwin is listed as the #12 post player and all 11 post players ahead of her remain in the top 60 so Baldwin is likely in the 60-70 range right now according to ESPN.
It’s really hard to say why these players dropped the way they did. Basically all of them had successful senior years and Weber and Brown came back from serious injuries to play well. Nicoletti and Myers were selected to the McDonald’s All-America game and the Jordan Brand Classic. Nicoletti (NC), Brown (NM) and Weber (LA) were the Gatorade players of the year in their respective states. Puisis was just invited to the USA U18 national team trials.
This doesn’t change the fact that the class is still loaded with quality. Even with the new player rankings FSU’s 2018 class ranks second nationally using 247’s system to rank recruiting classes. Baylor is first (70.63 points) and the rest of the top six in order are FSU (67.75), Notre Dame (66.81), Texas (65.21), Maryland (64.81) and Georgia Tech (63.52).
Of course I will have much more on the team as the season approaches. The comments are yours.