Over three years ago, Florida State made a commitment to field a premier collegiate sand volleyball program by hiring Danalee Corso (formerly Danalee Bragado), a former professional beach volleyball player and coach.
Entering collegiate sand volleyball’s fourth season, and her fourth at the helm of FSU, Corso and the Seminoles have exceeded all expectations as Florida State has become the nation’s top program on the East Coast.
FSU is a bona fide juggernaut as sand volleyball enters its final year of emerging sport status with NCAA sponsorship on the horizon.
Corso has been the architect of an FSU sand volleyball program that has produced seven All-America honorees, advanced to three consecutive AVCA National Championship Final Fours and collected a 46-3 mark in regular season dual match competition.
In 2014, FSU nearly captured the AVCA National Championship, battling Pepperdine to the final point in a back-and-forth match before falling 3-2.
Junior Jace Pardon and senior Aurora Davis both garnered their second All-America honors, while junior Stephanie Pellitteri and her sister, sophomore Nina Pellitteri, won 25 matches and were a win away from also capturing All-America accolades.
As one of the most respected teachers of sport in the world, Corso has built the Seminole program from the ground up. Her detailed instruction, motivation, recruiting and vision jumpstarted the Garnet and Gold to the top of sport from the beginning.
FSU was at the forefront of sand volleyball’s first season of collegiate competition in 2012. The Seminoles hired Corso as the nation’s first full-time head coach in the summer of 2011 and she went to work building and preparing a championship caliber team. The results were impressive to say the least.
In her first season, the Seminoles didn’t lose a regular season dual match, sporting a 15-0 mark and a 72-3 overall record in pairs play in dual contests. Florida State also captured the team titles at Clash of Collegians, FSU Sand Tournament, UNF Invitational and the Fiesta at Siesta Key.
The Garnet & Gold won six pairs championships throughout the season and the top tandems of Jekaterina Stepanova and Pardon and Davis (formerly Aurora Newgard) and Brittany Tiegs advanced to the semifinals and quarterfinals, respectively, of the first-ever AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala., in April.
At the national tournament, Stepanova, Newgard and Tiegs earned three of the 10 individual All-America awards from the AVCA.
Florida State finished the 2013 season with a 17-4 dual match record. Corso led the Seminoles to their second consecutive semifinal at the AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships after falling to No. 1 seed and national champion runner-up Pepperdine, 3-2. Top pair and 2013 All-Americans, Pardon and Sarah Wickstrom, reached the pairs quarterfinals at the AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships. The `Noles had big wins against then No. 3 USC in Los Angeles, Calif. and defended their Fiesta at Siesta Team Cup title in Siesta Key, Fla. for the second year in a row.
In 2014, the Seminoles finished 19-3 overall and advanced to their first AVCA National Championship finals.
Davis and Pardon finished the season with a 41-4 record (.911 winning percentage) and held a winning streak of 26 matches in a row including all 52 sets during that span. Davis and Pardon also reached the semifinals of the single-elimination pairs bracket at the AVCA National Championships.
FSU rolled through the 2014 regular season, falling to only then-No. 1 USC, 3-2, in Los Angeles and dropping just eight total sets before the National Championships.
In addition to the success of Pardon, Davis and the Pellitteri sisters, senior Fatma Yildirim wrapped up her career with 32 victories, while Wickstrom picked up 31 wins to help lead the Noles.
FSU’s success should come as no surprise since Corso has enjoyed a standout career as a player and coach. She is well-known throughout the beach volleyball circuit after a highly successful professional career both domestically and internationally.
Corso was born and raised in Hawaii and graduated from Punahou School. Corso is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles, Calif., where she majored in business and played indoor volleyball from 1989-92. She captained the team and was a First Team All-West Coast Conference pick. After graduating she went straight to the women’s pro beach tour for one year prior to 13 seasons excelling in several professional double tours. In 1989, Corso played professional court volleyball in Paris, France for Racing Club de Villibeon.
In 2004, Corso received a Brazilian Pro Beach Coaching Accreditation and helped coach the United States National Beach Volleyball Team from 2004-07 as the coach of national team members, Rachel Wacholder and Tyra Turner. She has also coached 2008 Summer Games Olympian Nicole Branagh as well as top professionals Makare Wilson, Michelle More and Suzanne Stonebarger.
In 1993, Corso started Aloha Ball Club, a beach volleyball academy in Hermosa Beach, Calif. In 2004, her husband Brian Corso, another pro beach player joined her in the business which branched out to a full service academy that offers classes and private lessons for amateurs and professionals as well as sport specific fitness training.
She was also head coach of the USA Junior National Beach Team where she coached 12 pairs of men and women that competed at the Under-19 and Under-21 U.S. National Teams, and at the World University Championship (WUC). Her teams’ accomplishments included a silver medal in the Boys Under-19 team World Championships and a bronze medal in the Boys WUC.
Some of Corso’s greatest playing achievements include being ranked among the top 10 teams for nine years on the USA Volleyball Pro Tour. In 1996, she was the No. 15 ranked team in the world on the FIVB tour. Her finishes include a second place finish at a FIVB World Series event in Osaka, Japan, a third place finish in Deerfield Beach, Fla. on USA Pro Beach Tour and a first place finish at a FIVB Satellite Tournament in Jona, Switzerland. In 1998, on the Switzerland Pro Beach Tour, her team was ranked the No. 1 team of the tour and she was voted MVP. Corso won the 1995 Motherlode Open in Aspen, Colo. Corso also took first place at two NORCECA Tournaments in both San Juan, Puerto Rico and Mexico City in 2003.
Corso and her family moved to Tallahassee after she spent 20 years in Los Angeles. Her husband Brian Corso has a Master’s Degree in Sports Science, and coaches with her as the assistant coach of the FSU sand volleyball team. They have two young children, Camryn and Asher.