March 24, 2013
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. – The No. 3-ranked Florida State sand volleyball team headed four hours west on Sunday to defeat Gulf Coast State College in a championship bracket style of play. Aurora Davis and partner Fatma Yildirim defeated teammates Jace Pardon and Marija Milosavljevic to win first place.
The event was originally slated for Saturday before storm threats rescheduled the event to Sunday. Teams woke up to heavy winds forcing the match to be moved from Panama City Beach inland to the Pier Plaza to make it considerably less windy.
“It was still a really nice venue at Pier Plaza, a lot of action going around,” Florida State Head Coach Danalee Corso said. “It’s good to play at different venues and different kinds of surfaces. We got all the volleyball in that we needed with no problem.”
Coach Corso was excited to have her team play on an actual beach surface, but the move didn’t affect the girls mentally and the results were proof.
“We did get to practice down at the beach, which was one of the main things for us coming to Panama City and scheduling here. You don’t get to play on a natural beach very often,” Corso said. “This being a lifestyle sport, we really wanted to compete at the beach and we did get to practice there. The new venue was close enough that you could actually hear the waves still. It was basically being at the beach.”
The match consisted of six pairs from Florida State, four pairs from Gulf Coast State College, and one women’s amateur team pair. Each of the teams were split randomly into three pools to determine their seeds going into the championship bracket play.
The Seminoles finished placing five of their pairs in the top five spots of bracket play, with the sixth FSU team finishing seventh.
Following a tough weekend in Chula Vista, Calif., and losing to teammates Jace Pardon and Marija Milosavljevic, Aurora Davis and Fatma Yildirim came back for redemption and defeated Pardon and Milosavljevic 23-21, 21-12 for first place. Coach Corso seems to love the competition between her top two pairs.
“They definitely had a rough patch,” Corso said. “They had a rough go at it in California. I think they were able to kind of regroup and retool what’s going on. Our No. 1 and No. 2 teams are really competitive. On any given day whoever is the freshest seems to be winning. It’s good that they are challenging each other,” said Corso.
The toughest matches of the day were against each other. Katherine Plessy and Julie Brown were defeated by Pardon and Milosavljevic, in the semifinals, 21-14, 21-13, and earned third place honors. The duo of Melanie Pavels and Lexy Ryan slid by teammates Jeassica McGregor and Kayla Joyce, 21-18, 21-12, to earn fourth place. McGregor and Joyce earned fifth place, while Blyss Harkness and Annie Montgomery beat the duo of Nina Berry and Cassie Nagel from Gulf Coast State College, 21-12, 21-15 to place seventh.
“Our strength is really in the depth of our team,” said Corso. “We have great alternates. Our No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 teams are really good. I think we have the deepest team in the nation. We need to keep improving.”
The Seminoles will look to continue improving as they head to Jacksonville, Fla. next weekend to face UAB and Jacksonville University on Friday, March 29. Florida State will play Jacksonville again and Stetson on Saturday.
Final Results in the Championship Bracket:
First: Aurora Davis/Fatma Yildirim (FSU)
Second: Jace Pardon/ Marija Milosavljevic (FSU)
Third: Katherine Plessy/Julie Brown (FSU)
Fourth: Melanie Pavels/Lexy Ryan (FSU)
Fifth: Jeassica McGregor/Kayla Joyce (FSU)
Sixth: Ti Austin/Sarah Roberts (FGCC)
Seventh: Blyss Harkness/Annie Montgomery (FSU)
Eighth: Nina Berry/Cassie Nagel (FGCC)
Ninth: Kelsey Hedmon/Nicole Holton (FGCC)
Tenth: Katie/Emily (Amateur team)
Eleventh: Jenna Holt/Shelby Sculoio (FGCC)
For more information on the Florida State sand volleyball team, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at: @FSU_SVB.