GULF SHORES, Ala. – The third-seeded Florida State beach volleyball team split their matches on day of the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship. The Seminoles started off the day with a 3-0 sweep of sixth-seeded Stanford. The Noles and the Women of Troy capped off day one with a nail bitter that USC took 3-1.
“I thought we started off strong against Stanford and that was a good win for us in the first match,” said head coach Brooke Niles. “We knew it was going to be a tough match against USC since we battled with them in California and they have some new pairs and we have some new pairs. It could have gone either way and we just have to let it go and do some work tomorrow in the loser’s bracket. We cannot dwell on it. We know we have to play good teams to win a national championship. We are not expecting an easy route and we are not making it easy on ourselves right now but we will be ready tomorrow to compete.”
Florida State started the day hot, sweeping the Stanford Cardinal 3-0 in 41 minutes. The Garnet and Gold jumped on Stanford in the first set, winning all five including three-set victories of six or more points.
Keara Rutz and Torrey Van Winden earned their 30th win of the season together becoming just the sixth Seminole pair to have 30 wins in a season together. They dominated both sets, winning the first 21-13 and the second set 21-9.
Molly McBain and Payton Caffrey made it 2-0 for Florida State with a 21-13, 21-14 win on court three. The win for McBain was her 100th career win. She became the first Seminoles to win 100 career dual matches. Florida State finished off Stanford on court four with a 21-15, 21-13 win from Sara Putt and Raelyn White.
“Molly has been just a huge stable part of our program,” said Niles. “She is so steady, works hard every single day and doesn’t complain. I have never heard her complain once. She just shows up and performs. She is so steady and mentally tough. I am so proud she chose Florida State and we got to coach her because I think she has a really big future in beach volleyball.”
After a couple of hours of rest, the Seminoles got back in the sand to take on USC. The Seminoles took three first sets from the Women of Troy but that was not good enough as courts four and five went three sets.
USC took a 1-0 lead after winning 21-15, 21-13 on court one. Florida State tied it up with another win from McBain and Caffrey on court three. The Seminole duo won 21-18, 21-14. Florida State did not have the lead for long as USC took court two 21-18, 21-11 just moments later.
All eyes turned to courts four and five as they headed to third sets after Florida State won the first set on both courts and USC won the second. Florida State had a 7-4 lead on court four and a 2-1 lead on court five to start off the third sets. USC tied court four up at nine while the Seminoles still led on court five 7-5.
USC took six of the final eight points on court four to take the court and clinch the match. Court five ended tied at 10.
Florida State begins play in the loser’s bracket tomorrow at 2 pm ET against LSU. This will be the fifth meeting between the Seminoles and the Tigers this season. Florida State is 4-0 against LSU, including two wins a week ago in the CCSA Championship.
“We are good enough, athletic enough and talented enough to beat anyone out here so we need to keep playing like ourselves,” said Niles. “We have to trust each other, trust our training and our coaching staff and I think we will be okay.”
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