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The No. 4-ranked Florida State sand volleyball team defeated No. 9 Nebraska before nearly toppling the nation's No. 1 team and defending national champion Pepperdine on Thursday at the USA Volleyball Beach Collegiate Challenge held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
The Seminoles dispatched the Huskers 4-1 in the morning before falling 3-2 in an epic match with the Waves.
"We definitely fought hard today," Florida State head coach Danalee Corso said. "Pepperdine is such a strong team and we fell short. It was an exciting match. Nebraska really tested us too. They are the most athletic team we've seen. It's exciting to see all of the talent in the sport this year. Every match is going to be a battle."
Florida State took a 2-0 lead on Pepperdine, starting off the match by winning on Courts 4 and 5 as sophomore Sarah Wickstrom and senior Mallory Kiley took down Taylor Racich and Emily Cook, 27-25, 25-23, on Court 4 and sophomore Stephanie Pellitteri and freshman Nina Pellitteri outlasted Victoria Adelheim and Jazmine Orozco, 21-14, 18-21, 15-13.
The match came down to Court 2, after Pepperdine tied the dual at 2-2 with wins on Court 1 and Court 3. Sophomore Jace Pardon and freshman Julie Brown fell to Lilla Frederick and Kim Hill, 21-13, 21-15 on Court 1, while sophomore Melanie Pavels and freshman Katherine Plessy lost on Court 3 to Kelley Larsen and Kellie Woolever, 21-19, 21-12.
Senior Fatma Yildirim and junior Aurora Davis won the first set, 21-15, on Court 2 against Caitlin Racich and Lara Dykstra, but dropped the second set, 21-14, to the Waves No. 2 tandem.
The match and the dual came down to the final set, which the Pepperdine duo pulled out 16-14 to give the Waves an overall 3-2 victory.
In the day's first match, the Seminoles cruised past the Huskers, winning on Courts 3, 4 and 5 in two sets.
FSU's No. 3 tandem of Pardon and senior Marija Milosavljevic routed the Nebraska pair Kadie Rolfzen and Morgan Broekhuis, 21-17, 21-16, while Wickstrom and Kiley flew past Cecilia Hall and Kelsey Fien, 21-13, 21-13 on Court 4. The Noles' No. 5 duo of the Pellitteri's made short work of Alicia Ostrander and Sheridan Zarda, as well, winning 21-12, 21-15.
Florida State's top two pairs both went the distance on Courts 1 and 2 against Nebraska.
Pavels and Plessy defeated Hayley Thramer and Amber Rolfzen, 21-18, 20-22, 15-12, on Court 2. Yildirim and junior Davis fell in three sets to Nebraska's Kelsey Robinson and Alexa Strange on Court 1, 19-21, 21-19, 15-7.
"We are a young team and we are still learning, but our biggest strength is our depth," Corso said. "Our depth really helped us today. Mallory Kiley returned to the lineup. She had been out, but she fought her way back in and played great today. I'm so proud of her. Stephanie and Nina (Pellitteri) have been great all season for us too. I'm really proud of them too. They won both of their matches today and they were cool, calm and collected. Nina, for a freshman, she is really stepping up."
The Seminoles will face CSU Bakersfield on Friday at 11 a.m. PST before bracket play begins at 2 p.m. PST and runs all day Saturday. For more information on the Florida State sand volleyball team, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at: @FSU_SVB.
Florida State 4, Nebraska 1
Court 1 - UN Kelsey Robinson/Alexa Strange def. FSU Fatma Yildirim/Aurora Davis, 19-21, 21-19, 15-7
Court 2 - FSU Melanie Pavels/Katherine Plessy def. UN Hayley Thramer/Amber Rolfzen, 21-18, 20-22, 15-12
Court 3 - FSU Jace Pardon/Marija Milosavljevic def. UN Kadie Rolfzen/Morgan Broekhuis, 21-17, 21-16
Court 4 - FSU Sarah Wickstrom/Mallory Kiley def. UN Cecilia Hall/Kelsey Fien, 21-13, 21-13
Court 5 - FSU Stephanie Pelleteri/Kristina Pelleteri def. UN Alicia Ostrander/Sheridan Zarda, 21-12, 21-15
Pepperdine 3, Florida State 2
No. 1 PEP Lilla Fredrick/Kim Hill def. FSU Julie Brown/Jace Pardon, 21-13, 21-15
No. 2 PEP Lara Dykstra/Caitlin Racich def. FSU Aurora Davis/Fatma Yildram, 15-21, 21-14, 16-14
No. 3 PEP Kelley Larsen/Kellie Woolever def. FSU Melanie Pavels/Katherine Plessy, 21-18, 21-13
No. 4 FSU Mallory Kiley/Sarah Wickstrom def. PEP Taylor Racich/Emily Cook, 27-25, 25-23
No. 5 FSU Kristina Pelleteri/Stephanie Pelleteri def. PEP Victoria Adelheim/Jazmine Orosco, 21-14, 18-21, 15-13
Chris Nee of 247Sports.com. You can follow me on twitter @CNee247.
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