April 11, 2014
SIESTA KEY, Fla. - In what will be the one of the most action-packed weekends of the 2014 season, the Tulane University sand volleyball team got off to a rough start as the Green Wave dropped a 5-0 decision to fourth-ranked Florida State on Friday afternoon.
The loss was the second in a row for the Green Wave, who fall to 5-5 on the year. The Seminoles, who defeated Webber International earlier in the day 4-1, won their ninth-straight contest to improve to 16-1 overall. Despite the loss, however, first-year Tulane head coach Wayne Holly said he saw things that personified his team's continued improvement.
"Despite the results, we competed well today overall and at times we competed very well on every court," Holly said. "Florida State is an excellent program with highly-skilled, experienced beach volleyball players and they pushed us to raise our level. They are among the best and you always want to play the best teams."
Four of the Green Wave's losses came in straight sets, but Tulane had a chance to get a victory in No. 5 action where the freshman tandem of Miah Diirell and Sarah Strasner won their opening set against Elizabeth Montgomery and Julia Thompson, 21-17, before dropping a hard-fought second set, 22-20. In the match-deciding stanza, however, the Seminole pair proved to be too much and came away with a 15-9 decision.
At the top of the lineup, Florida State's Aurora Davis and Jace Pardon defeated Tulane's top team of freshman Tea Juric and sophomore Jackie Wegner 21-13 and 21-18, and it was a similar story in No. 2 play where the Seminoles' Kristina and Stephanie Pellitteri downed Green Wave junior Grace Weaver and Annie Shurtz 21-13 and 21-17.
"I saw flashes of much, much better volleyball from us in each of the flights," Holly said. "As we grow, we will be better capable of sustaining a high level of play more consistently throughout a match. Although we did not get a win today, we certainly raised our level. Now, the goal is to sustain this over the weekend and beyond. If we do, we can finish the season strong."
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday when they join the Seminoles and 28 other teams participating in the Fiesta at Siesta Key. Other Division I teams joining the event are College of Charleston, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, FIU, Georgia State, Grand Canyon, Jacksonville, LSU, Stetson, North Florida, South Carolina, South Florida, UAB and ULM.
Also rounding out the field over the weekend on the East Coast are Florida State College-Jacksonville, Hillsborough State, Palm Beach State, Pasco-Hernando State College, Polk State College, South Florida State College, Southeastern University, St. Catherine University, St. Johns River State College, St. Petersburg College, St. Thomas University, State College of Florida, Warner and Webber International.
The Fiesta at Siesta Key begins at 7:30 a.m. and will be split up into two groups of pool play. The top two pairs from 10 schools and four at-large teams will be placed into six pools of our competing for the Siesta Sand Pairs Challenge. The results from pool play will determine the seeding for bracket play which will be played on Sunday. Each match will be best-of-three sets, with rally scoring to 21 in the first two sets and to 15 in the third.
The remaining pairs from each school will compete in the Fiesta on Siesta Team Cup starting on Saturday at 9 a.m. There will be 27 different pools of four teams with pool play being one set to 25 points. After pool play, all teams will advance into four single elimination bracket playoffs. The Fiesta on Siesta Team Cup title will be awarded based on the final finish points for the top four pairs from each school.
"The next two days are full of pairs competitions and will be an excellent opportunity to see how well we can play against a variety of schools," Holly added. "This tournament is a perfect setting for getting our game where it needs to be as we begin to see the last third of the season approaching."
After the Fiesta at Siesta Key, the Green Wave return to action on Saturday, April 19, when they travel to Baton Rouge to take on host LSU and UAB at 10 a.m. and noon, respectively.
No. 4 FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (16-1) DEFEATS TULANE GREEN WAVE (5-5): 5-0
No. 1: Aurora Davis / Jace Pardon (FSU) def. Tea Juric / Jackie Wegner (TLN) - 21-13, 21-18
No. 2: Kristina Pellitteri / Stephanie Pellitteri (FSU) def. Annie Shurtz / Grace Weaver (TLN) - 21-13, 21-17
No. 3: Sarah Wickstrom / Fatma Yildirum (FSU) def. Hannah Holmes / Anna Wruck (TLN) - 21-16, 21-7
No. 4: Julie Brown / Melanie Pavels (FSU) def. Courtney Liddle / Olivia Utt (TLN) - 21-14, 21-19
No. 5: Elizabeth Montgomery / Julia Thompson (FSU) def. Miah Diirell / Sarah Strasner (TLN) - 17-21, 22-20, 15-9