March 13, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Not even mother nature can halt the dominant run the Florida State sand volleyball team is on to begin the inaugural season of the NCAA’s newest emerging sport.
The Seminoles weathered a one-hour, 22-minute lightning warning delay in the middle of its first match against Tulane before sweeping the Green Wave, 5-0, in both matches of a home-opening doubleheader at the Seminole Sand Volleyball Complex on Tuesday afternoon.
Florida State improved to 6-0 and continued its incredible stretch of having won every dual match without dropping a single set.
“It was a blast,” Florida State head coach Danalee Corso said. “Every day we are making history. I’m really proud of our team. We got a head start, but these teams are closing the gap on us. We’ve played Tulane three times now, and they’ve gotten better each time. Our team still maintained a high level throughout both matches and that’s all I can ask from them.”
The closest Florida State came to dropping a set came on court No. 5, but sophomore Jeassica McGregor and junior Lacey Blackman were able to edge Tulane’s pair of Milica Jovic and Shefali Arora, 21-18, in the first set thanks to six aces – including four straight at one point – from McGregor. The FSU duo then went on to win the second set, 21-11. In the second match, the pair had a much easier victory, cruising past Arora and Amber Bennett, 21-12, 21-11.
Arguably the most impressive win for the Seminoles was the 21-4, 21-14 smackdown freshman Stephanie Pellitteri and senior Mallory Kiley put on Tulane’s Olivia Utt and Azarri Badwai in the first match. Pellitteri had 14 kills and Kiley tallied 10 kills. The duo moved up to court three in the second match and defeated Anna Wruck and Lilly Wolfe of the Green Wave in straight sets (21-16, 21-11).
Florida State had the first match nearly locked up when a lightning warning delayed the competition at 4:37 p.m. Play resumed at 5:59 p.m. Still, many fans stayed for the second half of the event.
“I thought today went really smooth,” Corso said. “We had a great time. I’m hoping we can grow from here. Hopefully more and more fans can jump on the Seminole bandwagon and come support us. We’d love it!”
The Seminoles’ pair of senior indoor volleyball All-Americans, Jekatarina Stepanova and Visnja Djurdjevic, also had fantastic performances in the sand.
Stepanova teamed with freshman Jace Pardon to win on court No. 1, 21-8, 21-13, versus Cori Martone and Grace Weaver in the first match before drilling Tulane’s second-best squad, Milena Dragovic and Nikki Osuna, 21-6, 21-8, on court No. 2 in the second match.
Stepanova had 13 kills and a doubleheader-best 14 digs in the second match.
“It was definitely exciting,” the Riga, Latvia, native said. “We’re making history. It’s great.”
Djurdjevic teamed with freshman Melanie Pavels and won at court No. 3 over Wruck and Wolfe, 21-13, 21-7, in match one before routing Utt and Badawi, 21-7, 21-9, on court No. 4 in match two.
Djurdjevic recorded the afternoon’s highest kill total (16) in the second match.
Junior captain Aurora Newgard and sophomore Brittany Tiegs grabbed dominating victories at both the No. 2 and No. 1 spots for the Seminoles.
The pair hammered Dragovic and Osuna, 21-6, 21-7, on court No. 2 in the first match, and defeated Martone and Weaver, 21-11, 21-13, in the second match on court No. 1.
Pavels was able to perfectly sum up the Seminoles’ feelings after the first-ever sand volleyball match on FSU’s campus.
“This first home match was great” Pavels said. “We had a lot of fans here. I think a lot of people want to know what sand volleyball is and learn the culture. It was a lot of fun. It’s exciting. We’ve been working so hard and to have it pay off like it has is a great accomplishment.”
In six dual matches to start the season, the Seminoles have a perfect 30-0 mark against their opponents.
The competition gets tougher this weekend, however, as FSU travels to Santa Monica, Calif., to face USC, Pepperdine and Long Beach State at the Trojans’ weekend tournament.
USC, who like FSU advanced to the NCAA indoor volleyball Final Four in the fall, is expected to be one of the Seminoles’ toughest challenges this season.
For more news on the FSU sand volleyball team, follow the Noles on Twitter at: @FSU_SVB.
Florida State vs. Tulane Doubleheader Dual
at the Seminole Sand Volleyball Complex in Tallahassee, Fla. – March 13, 2012
Florida State 5, Tulane 0
Court 1: Stepanova/Pardon (FSU) def. Martone/Weaver (Tulane) – 21-8, 21-13
Court 2: Newgard/Tiegs (FSU) def. Dragavic/Osuna (Tulane) – 21-6, 21-7
Court 3: Pavels/Djurdjevic (FSU) def. Wruck/Wolfe (Tulane) – 21-13, 21-7
Court 4: Pellitteri/Kiley (FSU) def. Utt/Badawi (Tulane) – 21-4, 21-12
Court 5: McGregor/Blackman (FSU) def. Javic/Arora – 21-18, 21-11
Florida State 5, Tulane 0
Court 1: Newgard/Tiegs (FSU) def. Martone/Weaver (Tulane) – 21-11, 21-13
Court 2: Stepanova/Pardon (FSU) def. Dragavic/Osuna (Tulane) – 21-6, 21-8
Court 3: Pellitteri/Kiley (FSU) def. Wruck/Wolfe (Tulane) – 21-16, 21-11
Court 4: Pavels/Djurdjevic (FSU) def. Utt/Badawi (Tulane) – 21-7, 21-9
Court 5: McGregor/Blackman (FSU) def. Bennett/Arora – 21-12, 21-11
Records: Florida State 6-0, Tulane 0-4.
Note: Play was delayed for one hour, 22 minutes (4:37 – 5:59 p.m.) in the first match because of a lightning warning.