Volleyball closes out home schedule on high note

Pictured left to right: Kalen Blathers, Alexys Mann, Radka Dimitrova and Jess Long on Senior Night for FAMU. Photo courtesy: Kimiya Watkins

Volleyball fans had the opportunity Friday to watch as the Rattlers swept Bethune-Cookman off their feet on FAMU’s senior night — and final home match of the season.

FAMU dominated each set and secured its 16th sweep of the regular season, winning 25-4, 25-14, 25-21 against B-CU.

Dominique Washington, a transfer graduate student, gave the Rattlers momentum at the beginning of the first match and came ready to “kill.” Washington had 19 kills, 10 digs, and three aces, adding another double-double to her season stat sheet. She is No. 5 in the NCAA for the most kills per match this season. Washington said she is of her team and how smooth her transition has been at FAMU.

“I am very confident in my team and winning the SWAC tournament,” Washington said. “We have devoted every minute on the court, in practice, and games, for this tournament. We will not go into this tournament thinking we are better than any other team because any team can beat anyone. But our confidence is there, and we have prepared so much for this tournament.”

Irem Ucar, a redshirt junior, led the Rattlers with 4 aces and 37 assists. She agreed that the Rattlers are in a good place for the conference tournament.

“We won against Auburn in a preseason game,” Ucar said. “It was the first win against the P5 school since 2006; getting such an important win before the conference games made us more confident as a team. I have been awarded six times as setter of the week and four times for the all SWAC tournament honors award so far throughout the season. We had a great win in our last home game and senior night.”

“We prepared well for the game, and as always, our goal was to play volleyball well,” she added. “We were all happy to be accomplished from a game where our effective serves and attacks were at the forefront. Endless thanks to everyone who came to support us and didn’t leave us alone in our home matches. Real rattlers!”

FAMU’s coach, Gokhan Yilmaz, has been with the team since 2018. Yilmaz elaborated on their biggest challenges of the season and bragged on a few key players.

“Well, we have a lot of talent,” Yilmaz said. “Being able to play everybody who’s deserving and finding a lineup that works well. We have a lot of experience and a lot of athletic kids. Besides that, once you have that much talent, everybody, of course, wants to play.”

“We also have good passers; Jessa Long, Dominique Turner, and then Emerald Jacobs does a good job coming in. So it’s a team effort where we’ve gotten athletic, and all of them add something different to the equation.”

The Rattlers celebrated four seniors on Friday: Kalen Blathers, Jess Long, Radka Dimitrova and Alexys Mann. Then they brought out the broom to sweep B-CU.