FSU volleyball tops preseason poll

By Katrina Ferchow

The pressure begins for the Florida State volleyball team following the release of the Atlantic Coast Conference coaches’ poll Tuesday morning.

The Seminoles and intra-conference rival Duke were both predicted by their fellow schools to win the 2010 ACC championship.

Florida State, the reigning regular-season champion, and Duke each tallied a total of 108 points out of a possible 121 to tie for the top spot in the poll, but the ’Noles had the edge in first-place votes with five to the Blue Devils’ four. The two teams’ first showdown this season will come on Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. at Tully Gym in Tallahassee.

“We certainly feel honored that the coaches in the league have picked us to be at the top of the conference along with Duke,” head coach Chris Poole said. “This will be a different experience for this program.”

Three starters and eight letter-winners return this season overall from Florida State’s elite eight team that captured the school’s first ACC championship last season with a 19-1 conference record and a 31-3 overall record. Current American Volleyball Coaches Association Honorable Mention All-American Rachael Morgan, a junior outside hitter, will play along side senior and sophomore outside hitters Stephanie Neville and Fatma Yildirim, respectively, to make up the Seminoles’ starting lineup.

Also chosen by the league’s head coaches are the 18 members of the 2010 Preseason All-ACC Team. Selected to the team from FSU were Morgan, Neville and Yildirim.

Last season, Morgan collected 349 points, as well as 281 kills and 161 digs. Neville finished with 286 kills and a .309 hitting percentage, while Yildirim led the team in digs with 344.

Poole’s squad was predicted to finish second in the ACC in 2009, but his team is now aiming to appear in consecutive NCAA tournaments for the first time since the 1997-98 seasons. Poole, who won ACC Coach of the Year honors last season, is heading into his third season with the Seminoles and already led the program to its first NCAA postseason berth since 2002 last season.

Poole, needless to say, is about the 2010 season and his team.

“We have talent returning and we have added a talented recruiting class,” Poole said. “If we can blend this team together and create a positive chemistry in a short amount of time, I do believe this team can have another successful season.”

In the 2010 ACC poll, the top-four teams were separated by only 16 points. Georgia Tech received the final three first-place votes and was predicted to finish third with 103 points. Miami (92) and North Carolina (75) rounded out the top-five.

The ’Noles will unofficially begin their season with a tune-up against former FSU players in the Alumni Match Saturday, Aug. 21, at 3 p.m. at Tully Gym. The match follows the Garnet and Gold scrimmage at 1:30 p.m.

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