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.
Up Next for the Seminoles
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.
- Florida State’s season record improves 32-6
- This ties the team’s program record for most wins in a season (32-3 in 2016, Niles’ first season at FSU)
- FSU handed USC its first loss in an NCAA Championship match. The Women of Troy had gone 8-0 in the national championship tournament over the last two years.
- This is the earliest a No. 1 seed has fallen in the NCAA Championship, and the first time the top seed has fallen to a seed lower than No. 2. In 2016, No. 1 FSU fell to No. 2 USC in both the third round and the finals, and in 2017 No. 1 USC went undefeated.
Florida State’s Lineup
No. 1 – Tory Paranagua and Vanessa Freire
- One of two FSU pairs named to the CCSA All-Conference Team.
- 14-4 season record, all in the No. 1 position
- Both hit 100 career overall wins this season, making them two of six players in program history to reach the milestone.
- Paranagua is two wins away from becoming the first Seminole to earn 100 career dual match wins.
No. 2 – Hailey Luke and Katie Horton
- CCSA Tournament MVP
- 32-3 season record, undefeated at No. 1 (2-0) and No. 2 (17-0)
- Has won their last 21 matches, with most wins coming in the No. 2 position.
- Horton leads the team with 33 wins this season.
No. 3 – Macy Jerger and Sara Putt
- 19-0 season record, with one win at No. 2 and 18 wins at No. 3.
- Jerger holds the program record for most wins earned in the No. 3 position with a 44-10 record.
- Holds the second-highest pairs record on the team with 19 wins.
- Jerger was named CCSA Scholar-Athlete of the Year twice (2017 and 2018).
- Putt was an All-American with Stetson in 2016.
No. 4 – Brooke Kuhlman and Molly McBain
- 14-2 record, all in the No. 4 position.
- The pair has won 13 of their last 14 matches.
- Clinched both of FSU’s wins on the first day of the CCSA Championship, and clinched the Seminoles’ win over UCLA in the NCAA Championship.
- McBain owns the fourth-most wins on the team with a 26-5 record this season.
- Kuhlman was named an AVCA All-American in 2017.
No. 5 – Francesca Goncalves and Madison Fitzpatrick
- 3-1 record.
- Earned the first points for the Seminoles against both USC and UCLA on the first day of the NCAA Championship
- Goncalves holds a 28-5 record this season with 18 wins in the No. 5 position. She has a 58-12 record as a sophomore.
- Fitzpatrick has an 13-4 record in the No. 5 position.
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).