April 21, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida State sand volleyball team wrapped up the regular season on Saturday at the Seminole Sand Volleyball Complex in familiar fashion.
The Seminoles dominated the competition.
FSU picked up a pair of 5-0 victories, dropping just one set, over UAB and FAU to finish 15-0 in dual matches in 2012.
The Garnet and Gold have one event left in the inaugural collegiate season next weekend - the first-ever Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala.
Saturday's doubleheader was a great tune-up for the Noles.
"We finally figured out our strongest lineup, and the team played fantastic today," head coach Danalee Corso said. "It's a great way to walk into the national championships. We're ready as long as everybody can stay healthy. I think we'll be even better after a few days of practice next week.
"Kate, Visnja and Caitlin all played awesome today," Corso said. "They all bring so much maturity to our matches and our team as a whole. It will be hard to fill their shoes. That's how it goes. Hopefully our younger players will step it up."
Stepanova teamed with freshman Jace Pardon at the No. 2 spot to easily pick up wins over UAB (21-13, 21-10) and FAU (21-10, 21-11). The pair is the No. 5 seed in the pairs portion of the national championship and has a sterling 37-6 record on the season, including a 13-0 mark in duals.
"It was exciting, but it also was bittersweet because it was my last match as a Seminole at home," Stepanova said. "It was good to pick up a couple of victories before Nationals." Djurdjevic paired with freshman Stephanie Pellitteri for the first time this season, and the duo grabbed straight set victories versus the Blazers (21-12, 21-7) and Owls (21-10, 21-10) on Court 3. Djurdjevic went 15-0 in dual matches this season.
Haworth and her partner, senior Mallory Kiley (who is expected to compete next year as a graduate student), may have been the competition's most dominant duo on Court 4, handling UAB's Ally Slaughter and Kate Morrell (21-10, 21-12) before annihilating FAU's Lauren Jones and Chandler Hatton (21-6, 21-12).
"Today was extremely exciting," Haworth said. "Mallory and I came ready to play. We took charge right away. This was my last home game at FSU and it was exciting to win our matches decisively."
Florida State's No. 1 pair of junior Aurora Newgard and sophomore Brittany Tiegs improved to 45-6-1 on the season with victories over UAB's top tandem of Heather Thomas and Kirsten Gallagher (21-9, 21-10) and FAU's No. 1 team of Joanne Marras Tate and Alessia Pizzocheri (21-13, 21-12).
The only set FSU dropped on the day came on Court 5 against UAB. Junior Fatma Yilidirm and Jeassica McGregor lost the second set to the Blazers' Michele Simmons and Becca Howard, but won the match - 21-16, 17-21, 15-4. The FSU duo followed that match by hammering FAU's fifth squad, 21-4, 21-17.
In Saturday's third match, UAB edged FAU, 3-2, as the game came down to the third set on Court 2.
The Seminoles travel to Gulf Shores on Wednesday and will begin competition on Friday with pool play for the 16-team pairs championship. In addition to Stepanova and Pardon competing in that portion of the weekend, Newgard and Tiegs are the favorites, earning the one-seed.
The team championship will be decided by a double-elimination bracket on Saturday. Long Beach State, Pepperdine and College of Charleston will also be battling for the team title.
The national championships wrap up next Sunday, April 29, with pairs championship bracket.
For the latest news and updates on the FSU sand volleyball team follow the Seminoles on Twitter at @FSU_SVB.
Florida State/UAB/FAU Tri-Match at the Seminole Sand Volleyball Complex in Tallahassee, Fla. - April 21, 2012 Results
Match 1 Florida State 5, UAB 0 Court 1: Newgard/Tiegs (FSU) def. Thomas/Gallagher (UAB) - 21-9, 21-10 Court 2: Stepanova/Pardon (FSU) def. Fairbanks/Hirini (UAB) - 21-13, 21-10 Court 3: Djurdjevic/Pellitteri (FSU) def. Serley/McCallum (UAB) - 21-12, 21-7 Court 4: Kiley/Haworth (FSU) def. Slaughter/Morrell (UAB) - 21-10, 21-12 Court 5: McGregor/Yildirim (FSU) def. Simmons/Howard (UAB) - 21-16, 17-21, 15-4
Match 2 Florida State 5, FAU 0 Court 1: Newgard/Tiegs (FSU) def. Marras Tate/Pizzocheri (FAU) - 21-13, 21-12 Court 2: Stepanova/Pardon (FSU) def. Sataric/Vega (FAU) - 21-10, 21-11 Court 3: Djurdjevic/Pellitteri (FSU) def. Arboleda/Stoll (FAU) - 21-10, 21-10 Court 4: Kiley/Haworth (FSU) def. Jones/Hatton (FAU) - 21-6, 21-12 Court 5: McGregor/Yildirim (FSU) def. Nightingale/Pereira (FAU) - 21-4, 21-17
Match 3 UAB 3, FAU 2 Court 1: Marras Tate/Pizzocheri (FAU) def. Thomas/Gallagher (UAB) - 21-16, 21-13 Court 2: Fairbanks/Hirini (UAB) def. Sataric/Vega (FAU) - 21-8, 17-21, 15-9 Court 3: Arboleda/Stoll (FAU) def. Serley McCallum (UAB) - 18-21, 22-20, 15-11 Court 4: Slaughter/Morrell (UAB) def. Jones/Hatton (FAU) - 21-11, 21-12 Court 5: Simmons/Howard (UAB) def. Nightingale/Pereira (FAU) - 21-16, 21-11
Records: Florida State 15-0