April 13, 2012
SIESTA KEY, Fla. - With an eye toward the first-ever collegiate national championships in two weeks, the Florida State sand volleyball team will compete in the nation's largest-sanctioned tournament on Saturday.
The Seminoles are one of 23 different teams that will be represented at the Fiesta on Siesta Key. Competition begins at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday and will feature a morning flight play session and an afternoon single elimination tournament. All matches are expected to be decided by a single set to 21.
"Siesta Key will be very cool because we will play some of the sand-sanctioned teams as well as schools that don't have full sand teams," head coach Danalee Corso said. "There will be a high level of competition. The courts will be hard packed there, so it will be similar to playing indoor. It will benefit really good indoor players. It's going to be the largest sanctioned events in the country."
Some of the non-sand sanctioned teams that will compete at the tournament include UCF, USF, Louisiana-Monroe and Miami, allowing FSU to face some of the state's top indoor players on the beach.
Corso is also looking to solidify the five-team lineup she will take to Gulf Shores, Ala., for the national championships. Junior Aurora Newgard and sophomore Brittany Tiegs are entrenched as FSU's No. 1 tandem, while senior Jekaterina Stepanova returns to the lineup after missing last week's Stetson and FAU matches with an ankle injury. Stepanova will combine with freshman Jace Pardon to form FSU's No. 2 team.
"It's great that Kate is back," Corso said. "It will be a really important weekend for her and Jace, as they look to solidify a top seed for the national tournament."
The Seminoles' No. 3 pair will be senior Visnja Djurdjevic and freshman Melanie Pavels. FSU's fourth duo will be graduate student Caitlin Haworth and senior Mallory Kiley, while the No. 5 team will feature sophomore Jeassica McGregor and junior Fatma Yildirim. Yildirim, who was a member of the indoor volleyball team that advanced to the 2012 NCAA Final Four, will be competing as part of the top-five lineup for the first time.
"We've had a great season, but we need to keep trying to play at that higher level," Corso said. "This will be a good weekend to see how the new partnerships will work."
For updates and more information on the Florida State sand volleyball team, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at: @FSU_SVB.