May 2, 2013 - by
Noles Begin National Championship March

May 2, 2013

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GULF SHORES, Ala. – As the wind picked up and a light rain drizzled over the beaches of Gulf Shores, Ala., the No. 3-ranked Florida State sand volleyball team began its march towards the national title during its practice on Thursday at the 2013 AVCA Collegiate National Championship.

The Seminoles, the tournament’s No. 3 seed, practiced their strategy for a weekend forecast that includes high speed winds and possible showers.

FSU begins play against No. 6 seed ULM at 10 a.m. CT on Friday.

“When the wind picks up it’s a totally different ball game,” Florida State sand volleyball head coach Danalee Corso said. “You have to focus a lot more on ball control. They call the wind the great equalizer. There are a lot of upsets that happen when the wind picks up. We are a technical team and we have great ball control so this will favor us. I’m really excited.

“We’ve been preparing for this moment since the day after the National Championships last year. The moment has finally arrived. It’s like the night before Christmas. We are as ready and we are excited.”

A victory over the Warhawks will propel FSU into the second round of the team bracket to meet No. 2 seed Long Beach State at 1 p.m. CT.

The team tournament is a two-day event which is double elimination until Saturday’s semifinals. The semifinals begin at 11 a.m. CT and the finals will be at 3:30 p.m. CT.

CBS Sports Network will televise portions of the competition in three hour-long specials beginning on Tuesday, May 21 with back-to-back shows starting at 7 p.m. ET. The programming will wrap up on Tuesday, May 28, at 8 p.m. ET.

The national pairs championship will be decided on Sunday with a 16-team single elimination tournament.

FSU’s No. 1 tandem of sophomores Jace Pardon and Sarah Wickstrom and No. 2 pair of sophomore Melanie Pavels and freshman Julie Brown are slated to compete for the pairs championship.

And while the Noles’ top two pairs will definitely be a threat for the national pairs crown, it’s FSU’s depth on courts No. 3, 4 and 5 that could make them the national team champions.

Junior All-American and co-captain Aurora Davis and freshman Katherine Plessy will line up on Court 3, while senior co-captain Mallory Kiley and indoor All-American Fatma Yildirim will play on Court 4.

The most impressive team this year, however, has been the No. 5 pair of sophomore Stephanie Pellitteri and her freshman sister, Nina Pellitteri. The pair has a team-best 31 wins and just four losses this season.

The Garnet and Gold have only lost to two teams in dual play in two years – defending National Champion Pepperdine and Long Beach State. The Waves are the No. 1 seed this weekend, while the 49ers captured the No. 2 seed.

FSU fell to Long Beach State twice at the 2012 National Championships and once earlier this season on the 49ers’ home court.

The Noles lost a tough 3-2 battle to Pepperdine in California earlier this season, as well, dropping the deciding the game by just two points on Court 2.

“I’m more ready this year,” Pardon said. “I know what the sand is like. Everyone is super pumped. We are ready. This is our outlet. Pepperdine and Long Beach State will be tough competition. Our chemistry is great and everyone is clicking.”

For more information on the Florida State sand volleyball team, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at: @FSU_SVB.

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