GULF SHORES, Ala. – The No. 3-seeded Florida State sand volleyball team battled hard, but ultimately fell to defending national champion and No. 1-seeded Pepperdine, 3-2, in the 2013 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship Semifinals on Saturday.
The Noles advanced to the nation’s “Final Four” for the second consecutive year and has firmly planted the Garnet and Gold as the East Coast’s top program, having only lost to the Waves and No. 2 seeded Long Beach State in two years.
“Certainly, we would’ve liked to break Pepperdine’s winning streak,” Florida State head coach Danalee Corso said. “They’re a very formidable team. They’ve all been playing in the sand for 10 years. We have such a young team. We have our top three (pairs) all returning, and I can’t wait to watch this team grow. Only one team is going to be really happy leaving here, but I’m really proud of this group this season.”
Florida State’s No. 1 and No. 2 tandems still have an opportunity to capture a National
Championship in the 16-team, single-elimination pairs tournament on Sunday.
The No. 1 team of sophomores Jace Pardon and Sarah Wickstrom and the No. 2 pair of sophomore Melanie Pavels and freshman Julie Brown will open play at 8 a.m. CT on Sunday.
The Garnet and Gold opened the semifinals with a 1-0 lead before play even started after Pepperdine chose to forfeit on Court 1 following an injury.
The Noles battled hard on all four courts during the match, but only Stephanie and Nina Pellitteri captured a victory, taking down Pepperdine’s Emily Cook and Katie Messing, 21-12, 21-17, to finish the 2013 season with a remarkable 34-5 record together.
“We were all real excited today,” Stephanie Pellitteri said. “We definitely worked hard and had an amazing year. As a team, we didn’t win. We can only grow from this. It’s definitely motivation for next year.”
On Court 4, seniors Mallory Kiley and Fatma Yildirim traded leads with Waves Victoria Adelhelm and Taylor Racich in the first set before ultimately losing, 21-19, 21-15.
Kiley, a co-captain this season, wrapped up a brilliant two-year stretch on the sand volleyball team, finishing with 59 career wins and competing in two National Championships.
Junior Aurora Davis and freshman Katherine Plessy battled tough on Court 3, but couldn’t overcome the Pepperdine duo of Kelley Larson and Kellie Woolever, falling 21-18, 21-18.
Davis joined Stephanie Pellitteri, Kiley, Pardon, Yildirim and Wickstrom as two-time National Championships participants.
Brown and Pavels also fought to the end on Court 2 against Lara Dykstra and Caitlin Racich, of Pepperdine, but lost, 21-16, 21-19. The duo tied the match 19-19 in the second set, but Pepperdine rallied back.
Brown and Pavels played only one match on Saturday, while Pardon and Wickstrom didn’t play at all because of the Pepperdine forfeit, so the two FSU duos should be fresh for a great run in the Pairs National Championship on Sunday.
FSU finished the second season of collegiate sand volleyball with an impressive 17-4 dual match record.
For more information on the Florida State sand volleyball team, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at: @FSU_SVB.
Semifinals: #1 Pepperdine, 3, #3 Florida State 2
Court 1 – FSU Jace Pardon/Sarah Wickstrom def. PEP Lila Frederick/Jazmine Orozco – Pepperdine forfeit
Court 2 – PEP Lara Dykstra/Caitlin Racich def. FSU Melanie Pavels/Julie Brown – 21-16, 21-19
Court 3 – PEP Kelley Larson/Kellie Woolever def. FSU Aurora Davis/Katherine Plessy – 21-18, 21-18
Court 4 – PEP Victoria Adelhelm/Taylor Racich def. FSU Mallory Kiley/Fatma Yildirim – 21-19, 21-15
Court 5 – FSU Stephanie Pellitteri/Nina Pellitteri def. PEP Emily Cook/Katie Messing – 21-12, 21-17