The Seminoles open their regular season Aug. 31 against Wisconsin in Chapel Hill.
Curt Weiler, Tallahassee Democrat
Chris Poole can’t help but think his team is ahead of schedule.
The Florida State volleyball coach saw his team begin preseason camp over the weekend ahead of its 2019 season opener against Wisconsin on Aug. 31.
For the Seminoles, it’s a second preseason of sorts. They took their first overseas trip as a team since 2002 in June, practicing in Tallahassee before competing in five scrimmages against European teams during a tour of Italy, Austria and Slovenia.
“No doubt that we already have had a bonus preseason. It’s helped us. Even when we were visiting with the girls a couple of days ago and just trying to get ready the day before we started, I’m already familiar with all the girls in the room,” Poole said.
“That’s such a nice feeling to already know that we’ve got a head start…They had a great June where we trained, got to play some good matches out in Europe and I think it really has given us a good upstart for our season.”
The trip gave Poole a glimpse at how his team may line up for the upcoming season and which players pair well with others.
For the team, it gave them a significant jumpstart on their chemistry on and off the court.
“We can use it as a major advantage in that a lot of teams don’t get to do that,” junior middle blocker Taryn Knuth said.
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“We got a lot of opportunity to bond together, learn different personalities and how we work as a team.”
It wound up being a timely trip for a team undergoing a lot of turnover. The Seminoles have eight new players on this year’s roster. 11 of their 17 players on this year’s squad didn’t travel with the Seminoles last season.
“That’s a lot of players we’re trying to figure out exactly where they may go. It gave us a chance to see them against live competition and see a little bit of how they handle the pressure,” Poole said.
“That part has been good and certainly, the chemistry was good because they got the experience of going over and being able to hang out a lot together. I feel like there’s already continuity that usually takes a couple of months when you have that many new (players) in.”
In spite of all this turnover, FSU was still picked to finish second in the ACC behind Pitt by the conference coaches for the 2019 season.
That’s the same spot FSU finished in a season ago and behind the same team.
That’s all the motivation the Seminoles needed heading into the season as they look for their first ACC Title since they won back-to-back crowns in 2011 and 2012.
“We’ve finished second so many times,” senior libero Madison Sullivan said.
“For people to settle with us being second, it lights a fire underneath us to really want to show them that we can be first and we will be first.”
Although FSU opens the regular season on the road at a tournament on North Carolina’s campus in Chapel Hill, fans will have two chances to catch a preview of the team earlier in the month.
FSU will host a Fan Day/Scrimmage on Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. and a second scrimmage on Aug. 24 at 2:30 p.m.
Florida State Volleyball Fan Day
When: Aug. 17, 1 p.m.
Where: Tully Gym