June 30, 2011 - by
Sand Volleyball Class

June 30, 2011

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Florida State University Director of Volleyball and indoor volleyball head coach Chris Poole has announced the introductory sand volleyball recruiting class that has signed its national letters of intent to play the inaugural sport beginning in 2012.

Florida natives Stephanie Pellitteri (Deerfield Beach) and former South Lake High School teammates Jeassica McGregor (Groveland) and Aurora Newgard (Groveland) make up FSU’s first-ever sand volleyball recruiting class. All three heralded recruits possess enormous accolades stemming from their amateur careers at the high school and club levels.

“I’m very excited about this first sand volleyball signing class,” Poole said. “Aurora, Jeassica and Stephanie are all three exceptional players, but more importantly, they are exceptional young ladies. They are among the very best in the nation as beach players and we are fortunate that they have made a commitment to Florida State University.

“They will be the pioneers for not only a new sport at FSU, but a new sport on the college level. Our USA Women’s Beach team has won the last two Olympics and the sport was among the most watched of each of those Olympic Games.”

Pellitteri is a standout performer at Pompano Beach High School, where she was the captain of her indoor volleyball squad and became a second-team all county player. She began playing sand volleyball for Club Beach Dig in the summer of 2007 and continues to excel with the same team.

While playing for Club Beach Dig, Pellitteri has boasted some enormous victories over the years. Her team finished in first place in Women’s AAA Florida Beach volleyball on April 2, and also won the 18-under Open Division East Coach Beach Nationals in Fort Lauderdale on Aug. 8, 2010. Other events where she has led her team to victory include the 18-under USAV Florida Regional Championship, 18-under USAV Southern Open and both the 18-under and Women’s AAA Miami Beach Championships.

Pellitteri also became a Junior 18-under Regional and National Dig the Beach champion. She has been invited to several camps at the sand volleyball Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., which are invitation only.

McGregor is a 2010 graduate of South Lake High School. She is also a junior college transfer from Lake Sumter Community College, where she was named an All Mid-Florida Conference First Team member for the indoor squad. She led her team with 416 assists, 33 aces and a near 25 percent hitting efficiency. In the National Junior College Athletic Association final rankings, McGregor was 27th in aces per set and 48th in assists.

On the sand, McGregor guided her teams to five first-place finishes in various Dig the Beach tournaments in the Co-Ed open division during the 2010 season. She helped her team to a first-place finish at another competitive event at the Orlando Sports Complex in Nov. 2009, and became an AVPNEXT Southeastern Zone champion only a month before.

McGregor has participated with USA Junior National Tour Beach Volleyball in the 20-under division, earning a silver medal at an event in Huntington Beach, Calif., in 2009. In that same year she was also a USAV East Coast national champion and a Florida Region state champion. McGregor also captained the varsity indoor volleyball team, starting at setter and outside hitter at South Lake High.

Newgard has also enjoyed plenty of success in both indoor and sand volleyball. She has spent the last two years at State College of Florida, being named a Suncoast Conference First Team member in 2009 and ranking No. 1 in the NJCAA in kills per set as an indoor student-athlete. She also was a co-captain in her first indoor season at SCF.

This past season, Newgard earned more indoor volleyball honors. She was an NJCAA All-America Honorable Mention performer, finished first in the Florida Community College Activities Association in aces, kills and digs and was named the Suncoast Conference Player of the Year.

Newgard is currently in her second season in the sand circuit at SCF. In the 2011 season thus far, she has led her team to a first-place finish and an undefeated mark at the St. Petersburg College Beach Tournament on April 8. Last year, she also helped upend the University of Miami, 15-11, in a Gold Medal match at Siesta Key Beach.

Newgard has also helped defeat other strong duos from larger, Division I universities, including Notre Dame, Florida Atlantic, North Florida and Central Florida.

“Aurora, Jeassica and Stephanie are three great athletes,” Poole added. “They are great all-around players and they will now become the future of Florida State Sand Volleyball.”

An announcement on the FSU sand volleyball coaching staff will be made within the next two weeks.

Poole also believes that the addition of sand volleyball will ultimately attract a new set of athletes, relying more on athleticism compared to the indoor sport that has seen a growth in physicality within the last decade.

“While there may be some `cross-over’ at first with indoor players, I think you will also see many of your 5’7″ to 5’10” players start to focus more on the sand game,” Poole said. “The players indoor have grown bigger and bigger over the last 10 years and it has become a very physical game. However, the speed and athleticism will be important criteria for players to move in the sand and it will give a new set of athletes and opportunity to emerge in this new sport.”