TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State senior All-American Jace Pardon came off the best season of her career and was able to carry that momentum into a summer for the ages. Her success overseas this summer helped cement her name as not only one of the best sand volleyball players in the nation, but in the world.
Pardon began her offseason this summer training for the FIVB Beach Volleyball U23 World Championships in Myslowice, Poland, June 10-15. Paired with partner Lara Dykstra, a two-time AVCA Sand Volleyball All-American at Pepperdine, the duo had a 7-2 record throughout the international tournament and finished with a silver medal.
Following a second place finish at the 2014 AVCA National Championships on May 4, and at the FIVB Beach Volleyball U23 World Championships, Pardon was left with a bad taste in her mouth and was determined to win more than anything.
“I didn’t want another second place,” Pardon said. “I came into the U26 World Championships with a chip on my shoulder.”
After a member of the U26 USA team dropped out, Pardon was called upon to fill the spot on the team to compete at the 2014 World University Beach Volleyball Championship in Porto, Portugal, July 23-27. She was selected to pair up with former Florida State teammate and 2012 AVCA Sand Volleyball All-American Brittany Tiegs.
“I had never played with Brittany at Florida State,” Pardon said. “I was able to practice with her for a couple weeks before we left for Portugal. It definitely helped that we knew each other. It is always easier to play with your friends. I think it helped us on the court being familiar with one another.”
Their chemistry brought their performance on the court to another level. Leading up to their championship match against Germany, Pardon and Tiegs slid by a pair of three-set thrillers, including one against recent Florida State graduate and two-time All-American Aurora Davis. Pardon and Davis had teamed up for the entire 2014 season as the Seminoles No. 1 team, posting a 41-4 record and reached the AVCA Pairs Tournament semifinals together.
“I hated playing against Aurora,” Pardon said. “She is very competitive, but it stunk that we were both USA teams and one of us had to lose and be kicked out. She was a great sport about it and was there supporting us in the finals.”
Pardon and Tiegs defeated Germany’s top pair of Behrens and Seyfferth 21-18, 21-12 to finish with an 8-2 record and grabbed the gold medal in the 26-team tournament.
“We were able to get through a lot of pressure situations between the three-set matches in the quarter and semifinals, so we were prepared for the pressure of the finals,” Pardon said. “The first set was close, we were back-in-forth with them. They were a really good team. We definitely didn’t want to go three sets, so we came out in the second set with a lot of fire.”
Pardon’s performance in Portugal was so impressive, she was named the Best Attacker and Best Blocker of the tournament.
With the summer is now coming to a close, Pardon is able to look back at her remarkable 2014 campaign that included earning All-America honors for the second time, reaching the AVCA National Championship and pairs semifinal as well as a gold and silver medal.
“It was a great year,” Pardon said. “There were some disappointments and some successes, but the disappointments fueled me to get better. It was a little surreal that I was able to win medals for my country this summer. For me, to be able to represent your country is an incredible feeling. This whole year was priceless.”
Pardon is now ready to look forward to the 2015 season where she hopes her accomplishments can help improve a Florida State team that reached the National Championship finals for the first time in school history.
“I’m motivated to play and win,” Pardon said. “I’m ready to bring home a National Championship to Florida State.”For more information on Florida State sand volleyball, follow the Seminoles on Twitter @FSU_SVB and like their official Facebook page.