March 18, 2012
LOS ANGELES - A third-seed, an early deficit, a two-time world champion and terrible weather conditions didn't faze Florida State junior Aurora Newgard and sophomore Brittany Tiegs on Sunday on the final day of USC's four-team tournament at Santa Monica's Annenberg Community Beach House.
The duo completed an undefeated weekend by capturing the pairs championship over first-seeded Caitlin Racich and Summer Ross of Pepperdine in three sets, 16-21, 21-16, 15-10.
Newgard and Tiegs were massive underdogs, not only because the duo is FSU's No. 2 team and it was facing Pepperdine's No. 1 squad, but because Ross is widely considered one of the world's best beach volleyball players.
Ross won world championships in both the under-19 division and the under-21 division in 2010 and was named USA Volleyball Beach Female Athlete of the Year that same year.
"It was a huge win," Tiegs said. "Our ball control was great. That's what was key. The weather affected everyone, but we just kept our passes low. Mentally, we weren't scared of anybody and physically, we had no doubt we were prepared today. We were seeded (third) and were underdogs. It feels phenomenal."
Tiegs and Newgard defeated their teammates, senior Jekaterina Stepanova and freshman Jace Pardon in the semifinals of the single-elimination 20-team tournament. Five teams from each school (FSU, Pepperdine, Long Beach State and host USC) competed.
Newgard and Tiegs began the day by dispatching Long Beach State's Tyler Jackson and Janisa Johnson, 21-17, 21-15.
In the quarterfinals, the FSU pair took out Caitlin LeDouz and Tara Roenicke of LBSU, 21-16, 15-21, 15-5 to set up the semifinals match with Stepanova and Pardon.
Stepanova and Pardon, FSU's No.1 team, were seeded second and defeated Seminole teammates Mallory Kiley, a senior, and Stephanie Pelliterri, a freshman, in the round of 16. Kiley and Pellitteri won a play-in game over Long Beach State's Lauren Minkel and Jocelyn Neely, 18-21, 23-21, 15-10.
Stepanova and Pardon defeated Pepperdine's No. 2 duo of Lilla Frederick and Kim Hill, 21-19, 21-19 to advance to the semifinals.
Newgard and Tiegs grabbed a 21-14, 21-10 victory over their teammates to make the final, avenging a loss to Stepanova and Pardon at last weekend's Clash of the Collegians event.
Weather on Sunday was cold (around 50 degrees) and winds were high. FSU head coach Danalee Corso and Tiegs estimated gusts to be at 30 miles per hour at times.
But like all of the other factors, the weather was no match for Newgard and Tiegs.
"They were able to stay tough mentally," Corso said. "That's what it was all about today and this whole weekend. Nobody expected us to come here and perform like we did against the West Coast teams. Nobody expected us to win. This was a huge success, but these other teams are going to keep getting better - so we can't take this performance for granted."
Seedings for Sunday's play were determined by Friday's (March 16) pool play, which saw one pairs team from each school compete randomly in each of the five pools. Pepperdine dominated that first day of play, as three of its five pairs teams won all three of their pool play matches to help the Waves post an overall record of 12-3 (Florida State went 8-7 on Friday, followed by USC at 7-8 and Long Beach State at 3-12).
Florida State finished second in Saturday's team competition with 12 points, behind Pepperdine's 18. USC and Long Beach State had 10.
The Seminoles return to action next weekend when they host a four-team tournament on Saturday and Sunday, featuring USC, Stetson and Florida Gulf Coast at the Seminole Sand Volleyball Complex in Tallahassee, Fla.
For more news on the FSU sand volleyball team, follow the Noles on Twitter at: @FSU_SVB.
Play-In Matches 16 Kendall Bateman-Sam Hirschman (USC 4) def. 17 Chelsea Cabrajac-Bre Mackie (LBSU 3) 21-9, 21-17 20 Libby Fontanilla-Alma Serna (LBSU 4) def. 13 Visnja Djurdjevic-Melanie Pavels (FSU 3) 21-17, 21-15 15 Mallory Kiley-Stephanie Pellitteri (FSU 4) def. 18 Lauren Minkel-Jocelyn Neely (LBSU 2) 18-21, 23-21, 15-10 14 Tyler Jackson-Janisa Johnson (LBSU 5) def. 19 Lauryssa Blackman-Jeassica McGregor (FSU 5) 21-17, 21-15
Round of 16 1 Caitlin Racich-Summer Ross (PEP 1) def. Bateman-Hirschman (USC 4) 21-9, 21-17 9 Kelley Larsen-Stevi Robinson (PEP 3) def. 8 Sara Shaw-Geena Urango (USC 1) 21-16, 24-22 4 Michaela Christiaansen-Emily Cook (PEP 5) def. Fontanilla-Serna (LBSU 4) 21-17, 21-15 5 Victoria Adelhelm-Kellie Woolever (PEP 4) def. 12 Kirby Burnham-Kelly Irvin (USC 3) 21-16, 17-21, 15-11 2 Jace Pardon-Jekaterina Stepanova (FSU 1) def. Kiley-Pellitteri (FSU 4) 18-21, 23-21, 15-10 7 Lilla Frederick-Kim Hill (PEP 2) def. 10 Kati Duddridge-Megan Thornberry (USC 5) 21-18, 21-15 3 Aurora Newgard-Brittany Tiegs (FSU 2) def. Jackson-Johnson (LBSU 5) 21-17, 21-15 6 Caitlin LeDoux-Tara Roenicke (LBSU 1) def. 11 Katie Fuller-Natalie Hagglund (USC 2) 18-21, 21-12, 16-14
Quarterfinals Ross-Racich (PEP 1) def. Larsen-Robinson (PEP 3) 21-18, 21-13 Adelhelm-Woolever (PEP 4) def. Christiaansen-Cook (PEP 5) 26-24, 19-21, 15-11 Pardon-Stepanova (FSU 1) def. Frederick-Hill (PEP 2) 21-19, 21-19 Newgard-Tiegs (FSU 2) def. Ledoux-Roenicke (LBSU 1) 21-16, 15-21, 15-5
Semifinals Newgard-Tiegs (FSU 2) def. Pardon-Stepanova (FSU 1) 21-14, 21-10 Racich-Ross (PEP 1) def. Adelhelm-Woolever (PEP 4) 21-14, 21-16
Final Newgard-Tiegs (FSU 2) def. Racich-Ross (PEP 1) 16-21, 21-16, 15-10