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FSU Sand Volleyball Caps Season in Semifinals



April 29, 2012

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GULF SHORES, Ala. - The Florida State sand volleyball team's inaugural season ended in the semifinals of the National Championships pairs tournament on Sunday on the beaches of Gulf Shores, Ala.

Senior Jekaterina Stepanova and freshman Jace Pardon lost in a hard-fought semifinal to Long Beach State's Caitlin Ledoux and Tara Roenicke, 21-19, 17-21, 15-8.

That same 49ers' team knocked junior Aurora Newgard and sophomore Brittany Tiegs out in the semifinals, 21-17, 21-16, earlier in the day.

The Seminoles wrap up the season with a 16-2 final record and a third-place team national championship finish on Saturday. Stepanova, Tiegs and Newgard all captured All-America awards, as well.

"Long Beach is a strong team," FSU head coach Danalee Corso said after the semifinals. "I think if we could've won that first set, it would've been a different match. It was a great match, and this weekend was a great tournament. I'm really proud of Jace and Kate, and I'm really proud of the whole team.

"I think it was great for everyone to be here. I talked about it the whole year - that these West Coast teams with the indoor players would get better as they learned how to play in the sand."

Stepanova and Pardon fought back with a dominant second set against 49ers that included back-to-back points from the 6-2 Riga, Lativia, native who scored a point on a back dump before an ace gave the Noles an early 8-4 lead that set the tone for the rest of the set.

Roenicke and Ledoux had just a little more left in the tank to advance to the finals in the third set, however.

"Long Beach State deserves to be in the final," Stepanova said. "It was a close game, and we tasted the final so it's frustrating. We were so close, so it's kind of sad. Personally, I've had a great career at Florida State. This weekend was a great way to close out my senior season."

After winning set one, 21-17, Stepanova and Pardon were down 18-14 in the second set of the quarterfinals to USC's Kirby Burnham and Kelly Irvin before rallying to defeat the Trojan duo, 23-21, and advance to the semifinals. Stepanova had a powerful block to put the Seminoles ahead on a point before the Trojans hit the ball into the net to give the Garnet and Gold duo the set and the match.

The duo also routed UNF's Dagnija Medina and Emily Strack in the opening round 21-14, 21-13.

Newgard and Tiegs defeated College of Charleston's Emily Shelton and Kelly Kolich, 21-15, 21-16 in the first round.

Now the Seminoles will focus on next year. As the emerging NCAA sport continues to grow, Florida State has built strong foundation for the coming years.

For more information on the Florida State sand volleyball team, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at: @FSU_SVB.

Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships
Pairs Tournament Play
at Gulf Shores, Ala.- April 29, 2012
FSU Pairs Championship Results

FIRST ROUND
Tiegs/Newgard def. Shelton/Kolich - 21-15, 21-16
Stepanova/Pardon def. Medina/Strack - 21-14, 21-13

QUARTERFINALS
Stepanova/Pardon def. Burnham/Irvin - 21-17, 23-21
Ledoux/Roenicke def. Tiegs/Newgard - 21-17, 21-16

SEMIFINALS
Ledoux/Roenicke def. Stepanova/Pardon - 21-19, 17-21, 15-8

-www.seminoles.com-

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