The Florida State beach volleyball team will open the 2017 campaign as the nation’s No. 2 team as the AVCA Beach Volleyball Coaches Preseason Poll was released on Monday.FSU embarks on its sixth beach volleyball season in 2017 and second as an officially recognized NCAA sport. The Seminoles finished runner-up at the inaugural NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship in 2016, falling to preseason No. 1 Southern California in the finals in Gulf Shores, Ala., last spring.
The Seminoles return 11 letter winners from last year’s squad that finished with an overall record of 32-3, including 19 victories over ranked opponents. Among FSU’s returning starters are juniors Victoria Paranagua, an All-CCSA First Team selection, and Vanessa Freire, a member of the All-CCSA Tournament Team, who both tied for the FSU lead with 29 wins a year ago. Senior Sierra Sanchez (27-5), sophomore Nikki Esposito (19-8), redshirt junior Hailey Luke (17-7) and sophomore Macy Jerger (13-5) also return after helping lead the Noles to their first-ever CCSA Conference Championship and their first-straight national championship appearance.
“Our ranking is a testament to the strong team we had last year and the respect that people have for our program,” second-year head coach Brooke Niles said. “We are working hard every day to be the best team we can be and getting better each and every time we are out on the sand. This year we have one of the toughest schedules in the country and the competition is the strongest it’s ever been. We are excited to test ourselves.”
Florida State is scheduled to play 17 matches against schools ranked in the AVCA Coaches Poll preseason Top 15, including seven matches against teams ranked in the Top 5.
The 2017 Florida State beach volleyball season begins in Tallahassee this Sunday with the Garnet and Gold exhibition at 11 a.m. at the Seminole Beach Volleyball Courts. Admission to all beach volleyball matches is free of charge.
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AVCA Beach Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll
2. Florida State
7. Long Beach State
8. Georgia State
12. Grand Canyon
*italics denotes 2017 opponent