GULF SHORES, Ala. – The Florida State beach volleyball team's season came to an end on Saturday with a 3-1 loss to USC (30-5). This senior class ends their Florida State career as the winningest senior class in program history.
"They really fought hard today," said head coach Brooke Niles. "I know they did not want it to end like this. Today was not our day. We had a tough draw and those are things we have to deal with in a championship tournament. I would have liked to have started a little stronger and come out here with nothing to lose and something to prove. We got in too big of a hole on some of the courts."
"The seniors have done a great job. I came in their freshman year and did not recruit any of them. They really bought into what I was doing and the culture of the program. I love those girls. It is going to be tough to see them go since they have been a staple of the program since I have been here. Change is good though and we have to move on and start building for next year."
The Seminoles (29-7) got off to a slow start losing four of five first sets. Senior Macy Jerger and freshman Kate Privett continued to impress as they had all tournament long. They took the first set 21-16, leading the whole way. The two jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the second set and did not turn back as they won 21-12 for the Seminoles' only point of the match.
USC jumped out to a 2-0 lead with wins on courts one and two. Jerger and Privet narrowed the USC lead to 2-1 as juniors Molly McBain and Payton Caffrey forced a third set on court two. Caffrey had an incredible set as she and McBain climbed back from an early 4-1 deficit to take the second set 21-18.
Their effort was not enough as USC clinched the match with a 24-22, 21-17 win on court three.
"We are really young," said Niles. We have three seniors starting and one of them has only been here a few months. Moving forward we have a lot of potential and a lot of stuff to work on. I am proud of this team overall. It is a difficult moment losing especially when you know what it feels like to be in the national championship game."
The season is not over for the Seminoles as they send seven pairs to next week's USAV Collegiate Beach Championships in Hermosa Beach, Calif. The Seminoles had three pairs (Fitzpatrick/A. Chacon, Rund/Putt and Kuhlman/Poppinga) qualify for the main draw and another four pairs get into qualifying (Jerger/Privett, Caffrey/M. Chacon, McKeown/Robert and Sanchez/Johnson).
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#1 USC 3, #3 Florida State 1
1. Tina Graudina/Abril Bustamante (USC) def. Alaina Chacon/Madison Fitzpatrick (FSU) 21-15, 21-15
2. Sammy Slater/Terese Cannon (USC) def. Sara Putt/Payton Rund (FSU) 21-14, 21-19
3. Haley Haligren/Alexandra Poletto def. Brooke Kuhlman/Avery Poppinga (FSU) 24-22, 21-17
4.. Payton Caffrey/Molly McBain (FSU) vs. Maja Kaiser/Joy Dennis (USC) 19-21, 21-18 DNF
5. Macy Jerger/Kate Privett (FSU) def. Mollie Ebertin/Cammie Dorn (USC) 21-16, 21-12
Order of Finish: 1,2,5,3