March 11, 2016 - by

Noles Stay Unbeaten After Thrilling Victory Over No. 2 USC

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Florida State Beach Volleyball team wrapped up its West Coast swing on Friday with two more wins including a thrilling, come-from-behind victory over the defending national champions and No. 2 Southern Cal, 3-2, inside Merle Norman Stadium.

The Seminoles completed their season opening road trip winning all nine matches marking their longest win streak since winning a school record 15 in a row during the inaugural 2012 season. Six of Florida State’s nine wins during the road trip came against ranked opponents including three in the top 10.

“I liked the fact that we were on the road for a while and we just came and competed every match,” Florida State head coach Brooke Niles said. “We have the talent, but when you compete and put your heart into every match, we showed we can compete with anybody and that we won’t take anyone lightly.

“We will celebrate this one for a little bit but we know we have to get back to work. It’s super early in our season; obviously we are fortunate to come away with some wins on this trip as a couple matches could have gone either way. But these are just stepping stones to where we want to be.”

In front of a standing only crowd inside Merle Norman Stadium and on national television on the Pac-12 Network, the Seminoles won the third and decisive sets on courts two and three to clinch the match and secure their highest win over a ranked opponent in school history.

“The thing about this team is that they don’t worry so much about who is on the other side of the net,” said Niles. “We are really just focusing on our side and what we can do better each game. We want to get better and better each time out and learn as much as we can and we seem to be doing that during each match which is really good.”

Victoria Paranagua and Kristina Pellitteri evened the match at two on court two with a 15-13 victory in set three but not before holding off a late charge by USC’s Sophie Bukovec and Alexa Strange. FSU led by as many as six in the set but the USC duo won nine of the next 12 points to even the set at 12-12. But Paranagua and Pellitteri showed why they are undefeated on the year (9-0) winning three of the next four points to even the match at 2-2.

Noles Stay Unbeaten After Thrilling Victory Over No. 2 USC

The match clincher came on court three as Vanessa Freire and Sierra Sanchez had to battle back after dropping the first set to USC’s Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler, 21-19. The Seminole duo won set two 21-18 before making an incredible run in set three to give the Noles the victory. Trailing 13-10 in the third set, Freire and Sanchez won the final five points as Freire’s service ace at the end gave them the win, 15-13.

“Nina and Tory did a nice job of getting us even,” said Niles. “After Vanessa and Sierra lost a close first game, they figured things out and were really aggressive in the second and third sets. They just stuck with the game plan and were really tough on the service line.”

Kayla Joyce and Annie Montgomery earned the first point of the afternoon for the Seminoles with a straight set victory (22-20, 21-18) over Jenna Belton and Abril Bustamante on court four. Both sets came down to the wire and both times it was Joyce and Montgomery that made the big plays at the end. Trailing 12-10 in set two, the Seminole duo evened things at 14-14 before running out to their biggest advantage with a three-point lead and eventually a 21-18 victory.

“They played really tough,” added Niles on the performance of Joyce and Montgomery. “They pass-set really well and really stuck with their game plan. They also did a nice job of exploiting some of the tendencies by USC in their match.”

USC earned its two points with straight set wins on court one and five. Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes defeated Julie Brown and Jace Pardon, 21-14, 21-15, while Jo Kremer and Zoe Nightingale downed Hailey Luke and Nikki Esposito, 21-15, 21-18.

Earlier in the day, Florida State swept past No. 20 Loyola Marymount with a 5-0 victory. The Seminoles earned straight set victories on all five courts with Brown and Pardon providing the clinching victory on court one.

The Seminoles will next visit the state of Texas for three matches in Fort Worth on Saturday & Sunday, March 19 & 20. Florida State will face Houston Baptist (12 pm ET) and TCU (3 pm ET) on Saturday and then Texas A&M Corpus Christi (10 am ET) on Sunday.

Match 8 – Los Angeles, Calif.

No. 4 Florida State d. No. 20 Loyola Marymount, 5-0

Court 1: Julie Brown/Jace Pardon, FSU d. Avery Bush/Sascha Dominique, LMU – 21-5, 21-10

Court 2: Kristina Pellitteri/Victoria Paranagua, FSU d. Lindsay Carr/Veronica Nederend, LMU – 21-16, 21-12

Court 3: Vanessa Freire/Sierra Sanchez, FSU d. Jamie Lea/Erin Williams, LMU – 21-14, 21-14

Court 4: Kayla Joyce/ Annie Montgomery, FSU d. Kristen Castellanos/Nicky Kevorken, LMU – 21-9, 21-12

Court 5: Hailey Luke/Nikki Esposito, FSU d. Sara Kovac/Tatiana Schlange, LMU – 21-15, 21-11

Order of Finish: 4, 5, *1, 3, 2

*clinched dual win

Match 9 – Los Angeles, Calif.

No. 4 Florida State d. No. 2 Southern Cal, 3-2

Court 1: Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes, USC d. Julie Brown/Jace Pardon, FSU – 21-14, 21-15

Court 2: Kristina Pellitteri/Victoria Paranagua, FSU d. Sophie Bukovec/Alexa Strange, USC – 21-19, 13-21, 15-13

Court 3: Vanessa Freire/Sierra Sanchez, FSU d. Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler, USC – 19-21, 21-18, 15-13

Court 4: Kayla Joyce/ Annie Montgomery, FSU d. Jenna Belton/Abril Bustamante, USC – 22-20, 21-18

Court 5: Jo Kremer/Zoe Nightingale, USC d. Hailey Luke/Nikki Esposito, FSU – 21-15, 21-18

EXH: Terese Cannon/Katrina Kernochan, USC d. Blyss Harkness/Macy Jerger, FSU – 21-16, 21-17

Order of Finish: 5, 4, 1, 2, *3

*clinched dual win

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