GULF SHORES, Ala. – The fourth-seeded Florida State beach volleyball team stayed perfect on the first day of the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship, taking out No. 5 USC and No. 1 UCLA. FSU handed the defending champions their first loss in the championship to start the day, and toppled the top-seeded team in the event for the first time in program history.
“We’re the underdog, we’re not expected to win,” said head coach Brooke Niles. “We have everything to gain and nothing to lose, and that’s how we’re playing.”
The Seminoles started off the day against No. 4 Southern Cal, a team that had gone 8-0 in the Championship prior to facing the Seminoles. The Seminoles took down the two-time defending national champions in a 3-1 decision, coming out of the first round of the only East Coast team to earn a win.
FSU snapped a six-match run for the Women of Troy in the series between the two teams, and earned their first win over USC since 2016.
The next round of the Championship matched the Seminoles with No. 1 seed UCLA, where FSU was able to close out the match in another 3-1 decision. It marked the largest upset in a defeat of the top-seeded team, with the last time a No. 1 seed fell was when the No. 1 Seminoles fell to No. 2 USC twice in 2016.
With all six of FSU’s losses in the regular season coming to West Coast teams, the Seminoles went into the tournament looking to prove themselves against four of the teams they had lost to earlier in the season.
“’All In’ isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about sacrificing yourself for the team and doing it day in and day out, whether it’s mental training, physical training, making changes on the court, listening to the coaches. They’ve been doing that all year and we’ve been getting better and better at it, I’m so proud of them.”
With 32 wins this season, FSU now ties its program record for most wins in a season. The record was set in 2016 when Niles took the helm and led the Seminoles to a 32-3 record and a runner-up finish in the inaugural NCAA Championship.
Florida State advances in the main bracket of the tournament and will face No. 3 Hawaii in Dual No. 11, Saturday, May 5 at 4:00 pm EST.
Hawaii is the only West Coast team the Seminoles earned a win over this season, taking a 4-1 decision over the Rainbow Wahine at the East Meets West Challenge in Manhattan Beach, Calif.
FSU’s match on Saturday afternoon will air on ESPN2. Links for the live stream and coverage for each court can be found here.
Follow the team on Facebook (Florida State Beach Volleyball), Twitter (FSU_BeachVB) and Instagram (FSUbeachvolleyball).