LONG BEACH, Calif. – The “Beasts of the East” finally knocked off the best of the West on Wednesday at the LBSU Courts.
The fourth-ranked Florida State sand volleyball team defeated reigning AVCA National Champions and third-ranked Long Beach State, 3-2, marking the Seminoles’ biggest win in school history.
The All-American duo of junior Jace Pardon and senior Aurora Davis lived up to their billing by clinching the match with a two-set victory on Court 1, while Florida State also picked up victories from senior Fatma Yildirim and sophomore Kayla Joyce on Court 4 and the pair of juniors Sarah Wickstrom and Katie Mosher on Court 5.
“Any time you beat the defending national champions it’s a huge win,” FSU head coach Danalee Corso said. “We played well, but we still have a lot we can improve on. Jace and Aurora were fantastic on Court 1 as they have been all year. Sarah and Katie played great, too. They have been practicing with the indoor team and are just now getting back into the sand routine. They were very steady. Fatma and Kayla had an awesome win too. I’m very proud of this team, but we still have plenty of work to do this season.”
The Seminoles improved to 5-0 on the season with the historic victory, while Long Beach State dropped to 2-2.
The competition doesn’t get any easier for Florida State. The Noles will put their unblemished record to the test again on Friday in three duals versus No. 2 USC, No. 6 UCLA and Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles. The Trojans, who will host the two-day event, handed Long Beach State its other loss earlier this season.
“This weekend we have another tough matchup against USC and a long day of three matches,” Corso said. “We’re playing well, but we need to take it one day at a time. We’ve beaten two of the top 10 teams in the country, and hopefully we can continue to improve and move up the rankings.”
The 49ers edged the Seminoles 3-2 at the 2013 AVCA National Championship last spring in Gulf Shores, Ala., and had come out on top in three other head-to-head matchups between the two squads since sand volleyball became a collegiate sport in 2012.
Long Beach State returned five of 10 starters from last year’s national championship team, but was still projected to contend for another title this spring.
Wednesday’s dual format featured just two courts playing at a time with Courts 4 and 5 starting off, followed by Courts 2 and 6 and ending with play on Courts 1 and 3. Court 6’s match was an exhibition.
The Seminoles got off to a blazing start by winning on Courts 4 and 5 to take a 2-0 advantage.
Wickstrom and Mosher routed Long Beach State’s No. 5 pair of Ciana Wagner and Morea Wagner, 21-13, 21-13, while Yildirim and Joyce captured a 21-18, 21-17 victory over the 49ers’ No. 4 tandem of Jenelle Hudson and Alex Reid.
Joyce and Yildirm fought back from early deficits of 5-2 and 12-9 in the second set to seal the Court 4 win.
Junior Stephanie Pellitteri and sophomore Kristina Pellitteri grabbed a 19-16 first-set lead on Court 2 against LBSU’s Janisa Johnson and Tyler Jackson, but couldn’t hold on. The 49er pair came back to take the first set, 22-20, and used that momentum to snag a 21-8 win in Set 2.
Heading into the final two matches on Courts 1 and 3, FSU held a 2-1 advantage and just needed a split to nab the upset.
Pardon was extraordinary at the net, tallying kills and blocks at the perfect time as the Seminoles’ No. 1 tandem clinched the match and dual on a kill by Davis which capped a 21-17, 21-13 win over Delainey Aigner-Swesey and Bojana Todorovic.
“It felt awesome to redeem ourselves,” Pardon said. “We were so close the past two seasons. It feels great to beat the reigning national champs. We came out and did what we were supposed to do. We limited our mistakes. We kept with the game plan and executed it. I’m really excited for Friday. I can’t wait to face USC. It will be some great competition.”
On Court 3, FSU sophomore Julie Brown and junior Melanie Pavels fell to Long Beach State’s Bre Mackie and Chelsea Cabrajac, 21-15, 21-18.
Earlier in the day, sophomore Annie Montgomery and freshman Julia Thompson dropped a tough three-set match to Joy Miley and Makayla Taylor in an exhibition contest on Court 6, 14-21, 26-24, 15-13.
For more information visit Seminoles.com. Live updates from Los Angeles will also be reported on the Florida State sand volleyball team’s official twitter account @FSU_SVB.
Florida State 3, Long Beach State 2
at LBSU Sand Courts – Long Beach, Calif.
1.) Jace Pardon-Aurora Davis (FSU) def. Delainey Aigner-Swesey-Bojana Todorovic (LB) 21-17, 21-13
2.) Tyler Jackson-Janisa Johnson (LB) def. Stephanie Pellitteri-Kristina Pellitteri (FSU) 22-20, 21-8
3.) Bre Mackie-Chelsea Cabrajac def. Julie Brown-Melanie Pavels (FSU) 21-15, 21-18
4.) Fatma Yildirim-Kayla Joyce (FSU) def. Janelle Hudson-Alex Reid (LB) 21-18, 21-17
5.) Sarah Wickstrom-Katie Mosher (FSU) def. Ciana Wagner-Morea Wagner (LB), 21-13, 21-13
Ex. 6.) Joy Miley-Makayla Taylor (LB) def. Annie Montgomery-Julia Thompson (FSU) 14-21, 26-24, 15-13