After a disappointing ending to last season, head coach Chris Poole and Florida State volleyball is hoping to make a deep run for a conference, and possibly, the program's first Final Four appearance since 2011.
During the 2018-19 season, FSU volleyball finished with a 19-10 record and lost to the Florida Gators in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but they have proven they should be taken seriously once again this season.
FSU Volleyball 2019
In his 12th season as the women's volleyball head coach in Tallahassee, Poole is one of the top coaches in the country and also has one of the top players in the country in outside hitter Payton Caffrey. The senior was an honorable mention 2018 AVCA All-American along with middle blocker Taryn Knuth.
The Noles are also led by setters Lily Tessier and Adrian Ell, outside hitters Morgan Chacon and Jasmyn Martin, and middle blocker Emma Clothier.
FSU won 10 of their first 15 matches to start the 2019 regular season, but three of those five losses came against some of the top AVCA-ranked volleyball programs in the country. At the time of their matches, they lost to the fifth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers in Chapel Hill, eleventh-ranked Gators in Gainesville, and the fourth-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers in Tallahassee.
They did follow up their season-opening loss to Wisconsin with a win against Minnesota, another top team that was ranked fifth early on and is still in the top-10.
A problem they may face is a tough Atlantic Coast Conference schedule. Last season, FSU won 15 of their 18 conference matches, but they lost two of their first six to start his year. The Seminoles play five of their last nine games at Tully Gym, a place where they were nearly perfect last year. To date, their only home loss came came against the ACC's North Carolina in a 3-2 loss on October 13.
If FSU can bounce back and continue their great play from last season and win an ACC title, it would be their first time since 2012 when they won a conference title three out of four seasons. Though the ACC is always tough, they don't have a completely loaded schedule remaining.
Louisville, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh are the only remaining teams currently ranked, though that could always change by the time they meet later in the season. FSU also plays Miami twice, hosts Boston College, Syracuse, North Carolina, and Duke while traveling to face Georgia Tech, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and High Point.
Chris Poole's Legacy with FSU Volleyball
The last two years at Florida State University under Poole were down seasons in recent program history, winning a combined 37 matches. The two seasons before that, FSU won 51 combined matches. In his 11 seasons with the school, he's won 274 matches leading the Noles, and he owns an overall record of 824-310, putting him at fourth in active wins for Division I volleyball coaches in the NCAA.
If the Seminoles volleyball team win a majority of their last 13 matches to at least finish with 20 wins, they should make a postseason run for the 11th-straight season. It will likely take an undefeated run to finish atop the conference standings and win a fourth ACC championship under Poole, but the Florida State faithful are busting out the garnet and gold gear as the girls get ready to make their run.
In his 11 seasons, Poole brought FSU to the NCAA Tournament every season since his second year. In his first time bringing the program to the big dance, they reached the Elite Eight. Only a season after being eliminated in the first round, the Seminoles finished in the Final Four.
Since the 2011 loss in the Final Four, the 'Noles have made it to the Sweet Sixteen in three of the last seven seasons with first-round exits in every other season.
Poole and Florida State have shown they are capable of beating top talent, so don't be surprised if one of the top programs with one of the top coaches get hot and make a run at the end of the season.
READ MORE: FSU Women's Athletics: Celebrating 50 Years of Dominance
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