June 6, 2014
By Aaron Brecheisen, Sports Information Assistant
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida State sand volleyball team has one current and two former players representing their countries this summer in international competitions. Senior Jace Pardon and recent graduate Aurora Davis will represent the United States while Fatma Yildirim, a member of the Turkish national team, is playing overseas on a professional Turkish sand volleyball tour.
Pardon, a 2014 All-American, is currently in Myslowice, Poland preparing for the U23 World Championships. She will be paired up with Lara Dykstra, a two-time AVCA Sand Volleyball All-American at Pepperdine.
"I am extremely eager and inspired to compete for my country," Pardon said. "A lot of the girls that play for other countries are really intense. They work their butts off, and that makes me want to try harder in practice and bring that same intensity to the court each and every day. It is an honor to have been chosen and to represent my country."
Pardon and Dykstra have been matched up before. They played last summer at the USA High Performance Championships and the duo won the event together. Pardon was chosen to the U23 National Team after advancing through a series of tryouts. Competition will be June 10-15.
"It is very prestigious," Florida State head coach Danalee Corso said. "There are only four girls in her age group that are picked to travel and she has been one of them for the past three years. A lot of the younger players that have ambitions to be professionals are looking at our program now because of Jace's success internationally."
Davis, a two-time All-American at Florida State (2012 and 2014), recently received information that she had been selected for the U26 United States team for its World Championships in Portugal.
"I have only been on cruises to Mexico and the Bahamas, so this will be an incredible experience for me," Davis said. "This is a huge step towards where I want to be in my volleyball career. It is incredibly humbling and cool to be selected for the U26 National Team." Davis who recently qualified for an AVP Tour event in St. Perterburg, Fla., finished 13th at the event while playing with partner Kelly Schumacher. The tournament was shown on the CBSSports Network and Davis was selected as the `Rising Star' at the event.
Davis will join former Florida State teammate and recent Hawai'i graduate Brittany Tiegs, former Long Beach State All-American Caitlin Ledoux, and Angela Benson over in Portugal for competition beginning July 23. Davis is currently in Manhattan Beach, Calif. training for the World Championships.
"Certainly there are a lot of great international players around the world, so being able to bring the notoriety of our programs internationally helps us," Corso said. "We definitely encourage participating and becoming involved in international competition."
Yildirim is coming off an undefeated dual match showing at the 2014 AVCA National Championship in which the Seminoles finished runner-up for the first time in school history. Yildirim has moved back to her native country of Turkey for the summer to compete in professional tour events.
Most recently, Yildirim teamed up with partner Sign Atasoy to win her first tournament on the TVF Pro Beach Tour in Ankara, Turkey. Yildirim won both the Most Valuable Player Award and Best Blocker Award on the women's side at the event.
She will also be participating in a tournament in Fethiye, Turkey this weekend sponsored by Nestea Nestea, and will be playing alongside other members of the Turkish National Team.
"One of my favorite things as a coach is seeing how my players progress," Corso said. "When someone like Fatma, who had never played sand volleyball before, is now out playing for her national team makes me very excited that not only have I taught her how to play the game but I've helped cultivate the same passion and love for the game that I had when I was her age."
For more information visit Seminoles.com and follow the Florida State sand volleyball team's official twitter account @FSU_SVB.