DeLAND, Fla. – The Florida State Beach Volleyball team gritted out two big victories on day one of the Stetson Beach Invitational downing No. 10 Florida International and No. 4 UCLA by identical 4-1 scores on Friday. With the two wins, the second-ranked Seminoles remained perfect on the year running their record to 14-0. The win streak now sits one shy of tying the school record which was set at 15 during FSU’s inaugural 2012 season.
“We had to battle through some things today,” Florida State head coach Brooke Niles said. “We didn’t come out as crisp in the first game against a good FIU team. Then with the rain delay, it was a mental toughness battle for our girls but we did some really good things against UCLA. I was proud of how they responded and we did what we had to do to pull out two big victories.”
Florida State opened the tournament with a hard fought, 4-1, victory over No. 10 Florida International avenging a pair of losses to the Panthers a season ago including a first round set back at the AVCA National Championships in Gulf Shores. After both schools picked up a point splitting victories on courts four and five, the Seminoles registered straight set wins on courts 1, 2 and 3 for the winning margin.
“FIU always plays us really tough,” said Niles. “It always seems to be a mental battle with them. Last year, we didn’t have the best results (against them). They (FIU) played really hard and aggressive so it was good for our mindset to start the day.”
Hailey Luke and Nikki Esposito gave the Noles the early 1-0 lead courtesy of a straight set victory on court five. After trailing for a good portion of the first set, the Seminole duo fought back to force extra points before grabbing the early advantage with a 26-24 victory. Luke/Esposito wrapped things up with a 21-15 victory in set two.
Kayla Joyce and Annie Montgomery fell in three sets to FIU’s Natalia Giron and Savannah Davis. The Noles ran out to the early lead taking set one 21-15, but the Panthers continued the match with a 21-19 victory in set two. Joyce/Montgomery got off to a good start in set three taking a 6-1 lead, but Giron/Davis would not go away quietly winning 14 of the next 20 points to win the third set, 15-12, and the match.
The Seminoles responded with an impressive showing on courts one, two and three in the second session to snap their two-game losing streak to the Panthers. Vanessa Freire and Sierra Sanchez secured FSU’s second team point of the match winning 24-22, 21-11 over FIU’s Kari Peterson and Dominique Dodd, while Julie Brown and Jace Pardon clinched the match on court one defeating Anabela Sataric and Aren Cupp, 21-13, 21-19. Kristina Pellitteri and Victoria Paranagua closed things out with a 21-19, 21-16 victory over Martyna Gluchowicz and Marina Boulanger on court two.
In the night cap, Florida State secured its second victory over UCLA this year. After downing the Bruins 3-2 two weeks ago out in Santa Monica, the Seminoles earned a 4-1 victory on Friday to run their record to 4-0 all-time against UCLA.
“We didn’t do anything differently against UCLA this time around,” said Niles. “We approached the match the same way we did against them in Santa Monica, outside of making a slight line-up change. We just tried to stay focus and stick to the game plan.”
Both schools earned a point after the first session as UCLA took an early 1-0 advantage as the Bruin duo of Reily Buechler and Zana Muno defeated FSU’s Montgomery and Joyce 21-9, 21-17.
The lead was short lived as Luke and Esposito evened the match at one apiece courtesy of a three-set victory on court five. Luke/Esposito defeated Julie Consani and Laurel Weaver 21-18, 17-21, 16-14.
Similar to the first match of the day against FIU, FSU’s first three positions all responded with a win to keep the Seminoles undefeated on the year.
Brown and Pardon gave the Seminoles the lead for good with a three-set victory over Megan and Nicole McNamara on court one 21-14, 17-21, 15-12. Paranagua and Pellitteri clinched the match on court two with a convincing straight set victory over Elise Zappia and Izzy Carey, 21-12, 21-17, to run their record to 14-0 on the year.
Freire and Sanchez closed out the match with a thrilling three-set victory on court three as the Seminole duo defeated Kamila Tan and Ivey Schmitt, 21-18, 16-21, 21-19, to also stay undefeated as a pair (12-0) in 2016.
The Seminoles wrap-up action at the Stetson Beach Invitational on Saturday, March 26 with two more matches. Florida State will hit the courts at 10:30 a.m. against No. 5 Hawaii and will then face No. 17 Florida Atlantic at 4:30 p.m.
Match 13 – DeLand, Fla.
No. 2 Florida State d. No. 10 Florida International, 4-1
Court 1:Julie Brown/Jace Pardon, FSU d. Anabela Sataric/Aren Cupp, FIU – 21-13, 21-19
Court 2: Kristina Pellitteri/Victoria Paranagua, FSU d. Martyna Gluchowicz/Marina Boulanger, FIU – 21-19, 21-16
Court 3: Vanessa Freire/Sierra Sanchez, FSU d. Kari Peterson/Dominique Dodd, FIU – 24-22, 21-11
Court 4: Natalia Giron/Savannah Davis, FIU d. Kayla Joyce/Annie Montgomery, FSU – 15-21, 21-19, 15-12
Court 5: Hailey Luke/Nikki Esposito, FSU d. Tina Toghiyani/Estefanie Bethancour, FIU – 26-24, 21-15
EXH: Katie Horton/Cecilie Woie, FSU d. Katie Hogan/Katie Friesen, FIU – 21-16, 21-19
Order of Finish: 5, 4, 3, 1*, 2
*clinched dual win
Match 14 – DeLand, Fla.
No. 2 Florida State d. No. 4 UCLA, 4-1
Court 1:Julie Brown/Jace Pardon, FSU d. Megan McNamara/Nicole McNamara, UCLA – 21-14, 17-21, 15-12
Court 2: Kristina Pellitteri/Victoria Paranagua, FSU d. Elise Zappia/Izzy Carey, UCLA – 21-12, 21-17
Court 3: Vanessa Freire/Sierra Sanchez, FSU d. Kamila Tan/Ivey Schmitt, UCLA – 21-18, 16-21, 21-19
Court 4: Reily Buechler/Zana Muno, UCLA d. Kayla Joyce/Annie Montgomery, FSU – 21-9, 21-17
Court 5: Hailey Luke/Nikki Esposito, FSU d. Julie Consani/Laurel Weaver, UCLA – 21-18, 17-21, 16-14
EXH: Macy Jerger/Brooke Kuhlman, FSU t. Karly Drolson/Jordan Anderson, UCLA – 21-13, 17-21
Order of Finish: 4, 5, 1, 2*, 3
*clinched dual win