SANTA MONICA, Calif. – The Florida State Beach Volleyball team ran its undefeated streak to seven straight to open the 2016 campaign following wins over Cal State Northridge and No. 3 UCLA on Thursday at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica.
“We were happy to get the two wins today,” Florida State head coach Brooke Niles said. “It’s a huge stepping stone for us because we have been on the road for a while. We are showing some mental toughness because it’s difficult to be away from home and staying in a hotel for this long, but I’m very proud of this team. We have been very disciplined beginning in warm-ups and we haven’t taken anyone lightly.”
The Seminoles opened the day with a 5-0 victory over the Matadors as the Garnet & Gold won all five courts in straight sets. The duo of Katherine Plessy and Blyss Harkness recorded the first point of the match with a win on court four (21-14, 21-6). Victoria Paranagua and Kristina Pellitteri followed with the second point of the afternoon on court two (21-14, 21-12), while Julie Brown and Jace Pardon clinched the match with a convincing straight set victory on court one (21-12, 21-8).
Hailey Luke and Nikki Esposito joined forces for the second straight match on court five defeating CSNU’s Nicoletta Stork/Nicolette Pinkney, 21-18, 21-15. Vanessa Freire and Annie Montgomery put the finishing touches on the team sweep with a win on court three (24-22, 21-16).
Against UCLA, FSU wasted no time earning the necessary three team points winning in straight sets on courts one, two and four. Brown and Pardon got the Noles off to a good start with a 21-12, 21-18 victory over the Bruins’ sister combination of Megan and Nicole McNamara on court one.
Paranagua and Pellitteri kept their undefeated record intact on the year with a straight set victory on court two over Elise Zappia and Isabella Carey (23-21, 21-17). The Seminoles clinched the match on court four as Freire and Sierra Sanchez defeated Zana Muno and Reily Buechler, 21-17, 21-19.
UCLA claimed the final two points of the match with wins on courts three and five. Kamila Tan and Jordan Anderson defeated Plessy and Harkness in two sets (21-14, 21-19), while Laurel Weaver and Julie Consani put away Luke and Esposito in straight sets (26-24, 21-13).
“Our seniors really stepped it up (today),” added Niles. “Jace and Julie played amazing. Nina and Tory played well too. UCLA had some very tough pairs at four and five and we did a very nice job of competing. We won in two (sets) but all the matches were close and could have gone either way. We were fortunate to come out on top today.”
Florida State’s win over the third-ranked Bruins tied the school record for the highest victory over a ranked team. Entering Thursday’s match, the Seminoles had wins over No. 3 Southern Cal (2013) and No. 3 Long Beach State (2014) both on the road. The win also kept Florida State undefeated all-time against UCLA at 3-0.
“I just hope we continue to get better and better after each match which we have done so far,” said Niles as FSU closes out its trip to California on Friday. “LMU has some very tough pairs and USC overall has a very tough team. It’s not going to be easy on Friday, but it’s a good, early test for us and I look forward to seeing how we close things out.”
The Seminoles will wrap-up their West Coast swing on Friday, March 11 in Los Angeles with a pair of matches against Loyola Marymount at 12:00 pm (ET) and then against No. 2/1 Southern Cal at 2:00 pm (ET).
The match against the Women of Troy will air live on the Pac-12 Network Los Angeles. Fans who subscribe to a cable package that carries the Pac-12 Los Angeles can see the match by authenticating their carrier at http://pac-12.com/live.
Match 6 – Santa Monica, Calif.
No. 4 Florida State d. Cal State Northridge, 5-0
Court 1: Julie Brown/Jace Pardon, FSU d. Julie Haake/Maddie Liephardt, CSNU – 21-12, 21-8
Court 2: Kristina Pellitteri/Victoria Paranagua, FSU d. Lauren Conati/Katie Sato, CSNU – 21-14, 21-12
Court 3: Vanessa Freire/Annie Montgomery, FSU d. Aeryn Owens/Kristey Markle, CSNU – 24-22, 21-16
Court 4: Katherine Plessy/Blyss Harkness, FSU d. Nada Dragovic/Kamden Maas, CSNU – 21-14, 21-6
Court 5: Hailey Luke/Nikki Esposito, FSU d. Nicoletta Stork/Nicolette Pinkney, CSNU – 21-18, 21-15
Order of Finish: 4, 2, 1*, 5, 3
*clinched dual win
Match 7 – Santa Monica, Calif.
No. 4 Florida State d. No. 3 UCLA, 3-2
Court 1: Julie Brown/Jace Pardon, FSU d. Megan McNamara/Nicole McNamara, UCLA – 21-12, 21-18
Court 2: Kristina Pellitteri/Victoria Paranagua, FSU d. Elise Zappia/Isabella Carey, UCLA – 23-21, 21-17
Court 3: Kamila Tan/Jordan Anderson, UCLA d. Katherine Plessy/Blyss Harkness, FSU – 21-14, 21-19
Court 4: Vanessa Freire/Sierra Sanchez, FSU d. Zana Muno/Reily Buechler, UCLA – 21-17, 21-19
Court 5: Laurel Weaver/Julie Consani, UCLA d. Hailey Luke/Nikki Esposito, FSU – 26-24, 21-13
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 4*, 5, 3
*clinched dual win