March 5, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida State sand volleyball team opens the season ranked No. 4 in the country in the AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball Top 10 2014 Preseason Poll.
Last season, the Seminoles finished with a 17-4 dual match record and nearly defeated both Long Beach State and Pepperdine at the national event, falling to the last two national champions, 3-2, in pool play and the semifinals, respectively.
"Every year we are gunning for that national championship," third-year head coach Danalee Corso said. "We've made it to the Final Four and to get to the final would be our next priority. We've gotten so close. I really believe we can this year. We'll have to play our best. We have some great players on this team. We might surprise some people."
Pardon and Wickstrom are coming off 2013 All-America campaigns that saw the duo advance to the national pairs quarterfinals as FSU's No. 1 team.
This summer, Pardon won the U21 gold medal at the USA Volleyball High Performance Championships and competed at the U21 World Championships, while Wickstrom was a captain and setter on the Florida State indoor volleyball team and led the Noles in assists (854).
Davis captured All-America honors in 2012 and has already amassed 72 career victories.
In addition to the All-America trio, the Seminoles also return 2013 AVCA National Championship participants senior Fatma Yildirim, juniors Melanie Pavels and Stephanie Pellitteri, and sophomores Julie Brown, Nina Pellitteri and Katherine Plessy.
In two years, FSU holds a 33-6 mark in dual matches, including a 30-2 mark in the regular season. Florida State is undefeated against teams from the East Coast.
Pepperdine, the 2012 Champion and 2013 runner-up, earned the top ranking in the inaugural poll, followed by Southern California at No. 2 and defending national champion Long Beach State at No. 3 before the Seminoles at No. 4 and Hawai'i at No. 5.
Rounding out the preseason poll are UCLA (No. 6), Nebraska (7), St. Mary's College (8), Florida International (9) and Stanford (10).
Participation in sand volleyball has grown incrementally since the inaugural season in 2012, and more than 40 schools are expected to field programs this season. Such rapid growth makes sand volleyball the fastest-growing Emerging Sport in NCAA history.
AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball
Top 10 2014 Preseason Poll
2. Southern California
3. Long Beach State
4. Florida State
8. St. Mary's College
9. Florida International