COLUMBIA, S.C. – The fourth-ranked Florida State beach volleyball team (9-5) split a pair of matches on Saturday during the first day of the Gamecock Grand Slam. FSU fell to No. 1 Southern California, 4-1, before bouncing back to defeat No. 9 Georgia State, 3-2.“Today was a really good day,” head coach Brooke Niles said. “Again this was four weekends in a row that we have faced multiple Top-10 teams.
We had a tough loss in the morning, but I think our team bounced back and came out strong against Georgia State.”
The Noles squared off against the No. 1-ranked Southern California Trojans for the third time this season to start off the day. The Seminoles came out of the gates hot as redshirt junior Katie Horton and freshman Francesca Goncalves defeated the Trojans 21-12, 12-21, 19-17 on court four to give the Noles a 1-0 lead. The Trojans won the next four courts, however. The No. 2 pair of junior Vanessa Freire and sophomore Brooke Kuhlman were defeated in three sets, 21-17, 23-21, 15-11.
As the second flights of matches began the Seminoles and Trojans were knotted up 1-1. On court one, senior Sierra Sanchez and graduate senior Leigh Andrew fell in straight sets 21-13, 21-12 to give the Trojans a 2-1 advantage. The final two pairs for the Noles both fell in straight sets, as well. The No. 5 duo of redshirt junior Hailey Luke and sophomore Nikki Esposito fell 21-13, 21-18 to give the Trojans a 3-1 lead and the match clinching point. Playing at the No. 3 position, junior Victoria Paranagua and sophomore Macy Jerger lost to the Trojans 21-17, 22-20 to wrap up the match.
For the second match of the day against Georgia State the Noles once again started off tied 1-1 after the first flight of matches.
Freire and Kuhlman won the first match against the Panthers coming away with a 21-19, 21-17 straight-set victory as the No. 2 pair. Playing at the No. 4 position, freshman Molly McBain and sophomore Nikki Esposito took an early lead after winning the first set 21-14 but could not hold on as they lost sets two and three 25-23 and 15-11.
During the second flight of matches the Noles once again took the first point as Paranagua and Jerger won in straight sets 21-11, 21-12 at the No. 3 position. Georgia State tied the match up once again at 2-2 as Andrew and Sanchez fell to Georgia State’s pair of Delaney Rohan and Chelsea Ross in straight sets 21-15, 21-13 on court one.
Horton and Goncalves proved to be clutch, ending the day with two wins, including the match-clinching victory against the Panthers, 21-12, 21-9, on court five.
The duo has won six consecutive matches.
“Tomorrow we need to get more consistency and fine-tune some things,” Niles said. “Today we played hard and communicated well, which helped us get some tight points. I am hoping that we continue doing that and fine-tune some offensive things.”
The Seminoles return to action Sunday as they play No. 9 South Carolina on the SEC Network (1 p.m. ET), and No. 13 Stetson (3 p.m. ET) to wrap up the Gamecock Grand Slam
No. 4 Florida State 1, No. 1 Southern California 4 – Columbia, S.C.
1. Sara Hughes/Kelly Claes (USC) def. Sierra Sanchez/Leigh Andrew (FSU) 21-13, 21-12
2. Sophie Bukovec/Allie Wheeler (USC) def. Vanessa Freire/Brooke Kuhlman (FSU) 21-17, 21-23, 15-11
3. Nicolette Martin/Terese Cannon (USC) def. Victoria Paranagua/Macy Jerger (FSU) 21-17, 22-20
4. Katie Horton/Francesca Goncalves (FSU) def. Abril Bustamante/Joy Dennis (USC) 21-12, 12-21, 19-17
5. Jenna Belton/Jo Kremer (USC) def. Hailey Luke/Nikki Esposito (FSU) 21-13, 21-18
Ext. Eva Torruella/Molly McBain (FSU) def. Katrina Kernochan/Lainy Thomas (USC) 21-17, 21-23, 15-13
Order of finish: 4, 2, 1, 5*, 3
No. 4 Florida State 3, No. 9 Georgia State 2 – Columbia, S.C.
1. Delaney Rohan/Chelsea Ross (GSU) def. Sierra Sanchez/Leigh Andrew (FSU) 21-15, 21-13
2. Vanessa Freire/Brooke Kuhlman (FSU) def. Haley Pa’akaula/LeeAnn Starr (GSU) 21-19, 21-17
3. Macy Jerger/Victoria Paranagua (FSU) def. Natalie Wilson/Amie Held (GSU) 21-11, 21-12
4. Georgia Johnson/Olivia Stasevich (GSU) def. Molly McBain/Nikki Esposito (FSU) 14-21, 25-23, 15-11
5. Francesca Goncalves/Katie Horton (FSU) def. Jessica Fourspring/Allie Elson (GSU) 21-12, 21-9
Ext. Eva Torruella/Ali Eager (FSU) def. Ashley McGinn/Maddie Gordon (GSU) 21-16, 17-21, 15-11
Order of finish: 2, 4, 3, 1, 5*
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