May 3, 2013
GULF SHORES, Ala. - The No. 3-seeded Florida State sand volleyball team advanced to the AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship semifinals for the second straight year, finishing 2-1 in dual match play on Friday.
The Seminoles opened the tournament by routing No. 6 seed ULM, 5-0, before dropping a nail-biter to No. 2 seed Long Beach State, 3-2, in the afternoon. The Noles rebounded to cap Day 1 on the beaches of Gulf Shores with another 5-0 sweep - this time against North Florida - to vault into the Final Four.
Florida State will face No. 1-seeded and defending national champion Pepperdine at 11 a.m. CT. A win will propel the Seminoles into the title match at 3:30 p.m. CT.
"It was tough losing to Long Beach - we were so close," sophomore Sarah Wickstrom said. "We beat UNF right after, though. We came back and we wanted it. We are really excited to play Pepperdine. We haven't played them in a couple of months. We're ready to get some revenge and beat them."
The Garnet and Gold will be looking to hand the Waves their first-ever loss in dual match play. FSU came close earlier this season, barely losing to Pepperdine, 3-2, in California in March.
"We're looking good," Florida State head coach Danalee Corso said. "I feel confident against Pepperdine. They have a new pair in the No. 1 spot. I think our challenging match against Long Beach today will set us up well for tomorrow."
In the dual of the day, Florida State and Long Beach State fought to the brink. The Noles took the first set on three of five courts and four matches went three sets.
After seniors Mallory Kiley and Fatma Yildirim fell in straight sets on Court 4, junior Aurora Davis and freshman Katherine Plessy evened the score up with a three-set victory on Court 3, 21-19, 19-21, 15-8.
The Seminoles had match point several times in the third set on Courts 1 and 5, but couldn't put away Long Beach State.
Sophomores Jace Pardon and Wickstrom dropped the final set, 17-15, on Court 1 versus last year's pairs runners-up Caitlin Ledoux and Tara Roenicke, while Stephanie and Nina Pellitteri nearly handed Janisa Johnson and Tyler Jackson their first loss of the season, falling 18-16 in the decisive set.
"We lost that match to Long Beach State, but it doesn't get any closer," Corso said. "We had a couple of match points. That team is older than us. We have a really young team and we keep getting better. I'm very encouraged."
Facing elimination against UNF a few hours later, FSU regrouped and played energized volleyball in sweeping the Ospreys, 5-0, again dropping only one set.
On Courts 1 and 2, Pardon and Wickstrom and Brown and Pavels each won in straight sets. Kiley and Yildirim also won in two sets on Court 4, as did the Pellitteri sisters on 5.
Davis and Plessy were forced into a three-set match against UNF, but cruised to a 15-9 win in the final set.
"We were kind of physically and mentally wiped out (after the Long Beach State match)," Corso said. "But we came back out and the team won all of their matches against UNF, keeping us undefeated in the East Region for the second straight year. I'm really proud of the team."
In their first match of the day, Florida State made quick work of ULM, dropping only one set en route to morning sweep.
FSU already had the match sealed up in under an hour as the Garnet and Gold earned two-set sweeps on Courts 2 through 5.
The Pellitteri's captured the most decisive win, a dominant 21-7, 21-5 triumph on Court 5.
Two FSU teams went 3-0 on the day with the No. 2 tandem of Brown and Pavels and the No. 3 pair of Davis and Plessy both going undefeated.
For more information on the Florida State sand volleyball team, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at: @FSU_SVB.
Results: Round 1: #3 Florida State 5, #6 Louisiana-Monroe 0 Court 1 - FSU Jace Pardon/Sarah Wickstrom def. ULM Tetiana Sukach/Zuzana Markova - 21-13, 13-21, 18-16 Court 2 - FSU Melanie Pavels/Julie Brown def. ULM Michelle McNamee/Amy Grabiec - 21-16, 21-18 Court 3 - FSU Aurora Davis/Katherine Plessy def. ULM Marcela Araya/Maria Garcia - 21-12, 21-14 Court 4 - FSU Mallory Kiley/Fatma Yildirim def. ULM Kylie Parks/Blanca Ocana - 21-18, 21-15 Court 5 - FSU Stephanie Pellitteri/Nina Pellitteri def. ULM Iren Marinova def. Alannah Cullum - 21-7, 21-5
Round 2: #2 Long Beach State 3, #3 Florida State 2 Court 1 - LB Tara Roenicke/Caitlin Ledoux def. FSU Jace Pardon/Sarah Wickstrom - 19-21, 27-25, 17-15 Court 2 - FSU Melanie Pavels/Julie Brown def. LB Delaney Aigner-Swesey/Chelsea Cabrajac - 21-18, 19-21, 15-8 Court 3 - FSU Aurora Davis/Katherine Plessy def. LB Bre Mackie/Libby Fontanilla - 21-19, 16-21, 15-12 Court 4 - LB Jocelyn Neely/Lauren Minkel def. FSU Mallory Kiley/Fatma Yildirim - 21-14, 21-12 Court 5 - LB Janisa Johnson/Tyler Jackson def. FSU Stephanie Pellitteri/Nina Pellitteri - 21-16, 15-21,18-16
Quarterfinals: #3 Florida State 5, #5 North Florida 0 Court 1 - FSU Jace Pardon/Sarah Wickstrom def. UNF Dagnija Medina/Anna Budinska - 21-13, 21-19 Court 2 - FSU Melanie Pavels/Julie Brown def. UNF Carolyn Jenkins/Cari Whitmire - 21-17, 21-18 Court 3 - FSU Aurora Davis/Katherine Plessy def. ULM Marcela Araya/Maria Garcia - 21-19, 18-21, 15-9 Court 4 - FSU Mallory Kiley/Fatma Yildirim def. ULM Kylie Parks/Blanca Ocana - 21-18, 21-15 Court 5 - FSU Stephanie Pellitteri/Nina Pellitteri def. ULM Iren Marinova def. Alannah Cullum - 21-7, 21-5