EMERSON, Ga. – The Florida State Beach Volleyball team (29-1) captured the inaugural CCSA Conference Championship with a 3-0 victory over No. 9 Georgia State (26-8) Sunday afternoon on the Rally Courts at the Lakepoint Sporting Community.
“This team has been through it all,” Florida State head coach Brooke Niles said. “It is really nice to have something to show for the effort that they have put in this entire year. It’s great to win this afternoon; Georgia State gave us a very tough game but we pulled it out and I am so proud of them.”
The Seminoles finished the tournament a perfect 5-0 en route to the first conference championship in program history. After winning the opening match of pool play 3-2 against LSU, Florida State did not give up a point the rest of the way outscoring the opposition 18-0. FSU, who has won 15 straight matches, will now have a week off before heading to the NCAA National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala., May 6-8.
The official eight-team field will be announced on Sunday, May 1 at 9:00 p.m., on NCAA.com
“They are definitely starting to trust each other a lot more,” added Niles on her team’s will to win all weekend long. “Annie and Macy were down 20-17, came back and were up 23-22 when they stopped play. It really is good for us to go through these tough matches.”
Florida State quickly ran out to a 2-0 lead over the Panthers winning in straight sets on courts one and three. After pulling out a grueling 26-24 victory in set one, Vanessa Freire and Sierra Sanchez secured the Noles’ first point of the match taking set two 21-12 over Milani Pickering and Delaney Rohan. Julie Brown and Jace Pardon then gave the Garnet & Gold a two-point lead defeating Jansen Button and Sara Olivova, 21-16, 21-19, to move their win streak to 14 in a row.
Nikki Esposito and Hailey Luke provided the match clinching heroics on court five defeating Alexis Townsend and Chloe Cook in three sets. The Seminole duo easily took set one 21-11, before the Panthers bounced back to take set two 21-17. The third and decisive set went back and forth before Esposito and Luke pulled away late for the 15-11 win to bring the conference championship back to Tallahassee.
Annie Montgomery and Macy Jerger did not finish their match on court four as the Seminoles won set one 21-17 and were leading 23-22 when Esposito and Luke clinched the match.
On court two, Victoria Paranagua and Kristina Pellitteri battled GSU’s Katelyn Rawls and Nina Interwies to a thrilling three-set match. After dropping set one 21-10, Paranagua and Pellitteri evened the match with a 21-18 victory in set two to force a third set. The two teams were tied 12-12 when the Noles secured the championship point, but both schools decided to play out the match to an unofficial result. Paranagua and Pellitteri won the next three points to take the third set 15-12.
FSU’s Brown/Pardon and Freire/Sanchez finished the tournament a perfect 5-0 and were named to the CCSA All-Conference Tournament Team. Brown/Pardon, who played at the No. 1 position all weekend, claimed Pair of the Tournament honors.
Stay tuned to Seminoles.com for more information leading up to the inaugural NCAA National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala., May 6-8. As always, fans can also follow the Noles on Twitter (FSU_BeachVB) and on Instagram (FSUBeachVolleyball) for continued updates on this year’s team.
Match 30 – Emerson, Ga. – CCSA Championship Final
No. 3 Florida State d. No. 9 Georgia State, 3-0
Court 1: Julie Brown/Jace Pardon, FSU d. Jansen Button/Sara Olivova, GSU – 21-16, 21-19
Court 2: Kristina Pellitteri/Victoria Paranagua, FSU vs. Katelyn Rawls/Nina Interwies, GSU – 10-21, 21-18, 15-12 (DNF; result does not count towards final score)
Court 3: Vanessa Freire/Sierra Sanchez, FSU d. Milani Pickering/Delaney Rohan, GSU – 26-24, 21-12
Court 4: Macy Jerger/Annie Montgomery, FSU vs. Brooke Weiner/Natalie Wilson, GSU – 21-17, 23-22 (DNF)
Court 5: Nikki Esposito/Hailey Luke, FSU d. Alexis Townsend/Chloe Cook, GSU – 21-11, 17-21, 15-11
Order of Finish: 3, 1, *5; 2 & 4 DNF
*clinched dual win