GULF SHORES, Ala. – The Florida State sand volleyball team’s quest to become the first collegiate sand volleyball champion came up short on Saturday at the hands of Long Beach State, as the Seminoles finished third on the beaches of Gulf Shores, Ala. at the inaugural Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships.
FSU dropped a pair of matches, 4-1 in the first round and 3-2 in the semifinals, to the 49ers. The Garnet & Gold downed College of Charleston 4-1 in the quarterfinals.
The Seminoles wrap up the season with a 16-2 dual match record.
FSU’s top two tandems of junior Aurora Newgard and sophomore Brittany Tiegs and senior Jekaterina Stepanova and freshman Jace Pardon give Florida State another shot at a national championship in Sundays’ 16-team single-elimination pairs tournament.
“I had very high expectations this season and the team exceeded them in terms of how hard they worked and how much they improved,” Florida State head coach Danalee Corso said. “I knew these indoor players from the West Coast would close the gap on us, they just needed time in the sand. I don’t think the team was expecting Long Beach State to improve this much. Congratulations to Long Beach and Pepperdine. I still think we’ve had a successful season. I definitely plan on challenging this team more next year so we are prepared for this national championship.”
Stepanova and Pardon captured the third seed, while Tiegs and Newgard snagged the fourth seed in the pairs tournament. Both duos will play at 8 a.m. CT on Sunday with first round matches against 13-seed Kelly Kolich and Emily Shelton of College of Charleston and 14-seed Dagnija Medina and Emily Strack of UNF, respectively. The quarterfinals matches will be at 9 a.m., the semifinals will start at 11 a.m. and 11:45 a.m., and the championship will start at 1:30 p.m. All times are Eastern.
“There are a lot of good teams out here, so it’s not going to be easy by any means,” Corso said. “It’s definitely possible to win. Our top two teams are very strong.”
CBS Sports Network will televise portions of this weekend’s competition in two hour-long specials. Part 1 of their coverage will air beginning on Wednesday, June 6 at 9 p.m. ET and Part 2 will begin airing on Wednesday, June 13, also at 9 p.m. ET.
After Pepperdine defeated Long Beach State to capture the first-ever sand national title, the inaugural 10-member class of All-Americans were announced, featuring FSU’s Stepanova, Newgard and Tiegs.
Stepanova and Pardon were absolutely dominant during Saturday’s team competition, winning all three of their matches in two sets. The pair will be among the favorites for Sunday’s pair championship.
The Seminoles got off to a slow start in their opening round match against Long Beach State, losing the first set on three of five courts. Stepanova and Pardon routed Chelsea Cabrajac and Halie Hampton, 21-17, 21-13. Newgard and Tiegs won the first set against Caitlin Ledoux and Tara Roenicke but dropped the second set before forfeiting in the third to conserve energy after FSU’s third through fifth teams all lost in two sets.
The Noles took out their frustration following their first dual loss of the season on the College Charleston, winning easily on four courts, before forfeiting on court four to rest up for a rematch with Long Beach State.
Again, the 49ers were too much for the Seminoles in the semifinals match. Stepanova and Pardon smoked Cabrajac and Hampton for a second time, but the Noles’ Nos. 3 through 5 teams couldn’t win a set, despite Visnja Djurdjevic and Stephanie Pellitteri and Sarah Wickstrom and Fatma Yildirm leading in both sets.
For more information on the Florida State sand volleyball team, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at: @FSU_SVB.
Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships
Pairs Tournament Pool Play
at Gulf Shores, Ala.– April 28, 2012
FSU Team Championship Results
LONG BEACH STATE 4, FLORIDA STATE 1
1. Caitlin Ledoux/Tara Roenicke (LB) def. Aurora Newgard/Brittany Tiegs (FSU) – 14-21, 21-16, FSU forfeit set three
2. Jekaterina Stepanova/Jace Pardon (FSU) def. Chelsea Cabrajac/Halie Hampton (LB) – 21-17, 21-13
3. Delaney Aigner-Sweeny/Libby Fontanilla (LB) def. Mallory Kiley/Caitlin Haworth (FSU) – 21-19, 21-8
4. Lauren Minkel/Jocelyn Neely (LB) def. Visnja Djurdjevic/Stephanie Pellitteri (FSU) – 26-24, 21-19
5. Janisa Johnson/Tyler Jackson (LB) def. Fatma Yildirm/Jeassica McGregor (FSU) – 21-13, 21-19
FLORIDA STATE 4, COLLGE OF CHARLESTON 1
1. Aurora Newgard/Brittany Tiegs (FSU) def. Lizzie Thesfeld/Elyse Chabb (CC) –21-13, 21-11
2. Jekaterina Stepanova/Jace Pardon (FSU) def. Kelly Kolich/Emily Shelton (CC) – 21-14, 21-14
3. Emily Neideffer/Sloane White (CC) def. Caitlin Haworth/Mallory Kiley (FSU) – 22-20, forfeit on sets two and three
4. Visnja Djurdjevic/Stephanie Pellitteri (FSU) def. Kirsten Koehler/Andi Zbojniewicz(CC) –21-17, 21-14
5. Sarah Wickstrom/Fatma Yildirm (FSU) def. Catey Warren/Sloane White (CC)
LONG BEACH STATE 3, FLORIDA STATE 2
1. Aurora Newgard/Brittany Tiegs (FSU) def. Caitlin Ledoux/Tara Roenicke (LB) – 16-21, 21-16, LB forfeit set three
2. Jekaterina Stepanova/Jace Pardon (FSU) def. Chelsea Cabrajac/Halie Hampton (LB) – 21-11, 21-10
3. Delaney Aigner-Sweeny/Libby Fontanilla (LB) def. Mallory Kiley/Caitlin Haworth (FSU) – 21-15, 21-14
4. Lauren Minkel/Jocelyn Neely (LB) def. Visnja Djurdjevic/Stephanie Pellitteri (FSU) – 21-18, 23-21
5. Janisa Johnson/Tyler Jackson (LB) def. Sarah Wickstrom/Fatma Yildirim (FSU) – 23-21, 23-21
Senior Jekaterina Stepanova
Junior Aurora Newgard
Sophomore Brittney Tiegs