TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – This was the exact type of moment Brooke Niles had in mind when she scheduled seven matches in three days for Florida State on its opening weekend.

Her No. 1 pair of Alaina Chacon and Molly McBain were a little gassed, down 8-6 third and final set of a long weekend against Tampa’s Julia Oswald and Rachel Rosequist, an excellent, scrappy, cheeky and athletic duo.

Niles wanted to see how Chacon and McBain would respond, to see if the culture she has been setting in Tallahassee these past four years had fully taken root.

“I asked them what type of team they wanted to be,” Niles said. “And they said they wanted to be this gritty team. So I said, ‘If that’s what you want to be, you have to show your fans that.’”

They did, all weekend long, winning seven matches in a row, displaying a conspicuous knack for finding a way, any way, to get the ball off the sand. Any court you watched, one through five, you’d have noticed. And you’d have especially noticed it on one, with Chacon and McBain.

“They seem to know what you’re doing before you even know what you’re doing,” Stetson coach Kristina Hernandez said of Chacon and McBain. In a way, they sort of have to.

There are few on the Florida State roster who could be described as physically imposing. Chacon and McBain, for instance, stand just 5-foot-9 apiece, yet were only really challenged once on the weekend, beating opponents of all sizes.

“It’s not a type of player, big, small, whatever,” Niles said of the type of athletes she recruits. “It’s ‘Are you athletic? Do you have the mindset that you want to get better?’ They are really smart, read patterns well, watch video, do all the right things. They’re just special athletes. They all are.”

Niles even chided herself a bit for not recognizing just how special McBain was three years ago. As a freshman, McBain, a senior from Toronto, played in 13 matches and didn’t rise above court four until this season.

“I’m an idiot for not playing her,” Niles said. “Look at her now!”

It was difficult not to, as McBain and Chacon, a junior from Crown Point, Indiana, won and won and won some more, including that final match against Tampa. They flipped that 8-6  deficit into a 15-9 victory.

It capped a day when the Seminoles opened with a 4-1 victory over No. 7 Cal Poly and then swept No. 13 South Carolina. It was a tough Sunday for Cal Poly, which also lost 3-2 to No. 9 Stetson, which, in turn, lost 3-2 to Houston Baptist. And South Carolina went 0-2 as well, also losing to No. 16 TCU 3-2.

“From day one, when we walk out onto the courts, that is the culture that [Niles] has drilled in us: We will be the grittiest team, we will make the hardest plays, we will be the loudest, we will try the hardest on every single point,” Chacon said. “At this point, it’s not even a question to us, so it is hard to beat us but that’s because (Niles) has drilled into us that we have to be the most mentally tough team.”

And, as a team, they all were.

Alice Zeimann and Madison Fitzpatrick were tough on No. 2, winning five of seven. Kate Privett and Maddie Anderson won every single set they played on No. 3. Payton Caffrey and Liz Waters-Leiga were also tough on No. 4, finishing the weekend undefeated. And No. 5 was equally tough, where just one set was lost between a variety of combinations of Keara Rutz, Lexi McKeown, Jenna Johnson, and Ashley Roberts.

“We were challenged,” Niles said. “Everybody pushed us but we were just really resilient.”

Alaina Chacon gets a kill against South Carolina at the Seminole Beach Bash/Tim Britt photo
Sunday’s results
No. 9 Stetson 3, No. 7 Cal Poly 2
1. Carly Perales/S. Helland-Hansen (STET) def. Torrey Van Winden/Macy Gordon (CP) 21-19, 21-11
2. Ana Costa/Kyce Martins (STET) def. Mariah Whalen/Tia Miric (CP) 23-21, 21-4
3. Emily Sonny/Jayelin Lombard (CP) def. Yasmin Kuck/Shae Henson (STET) 21-16, 21-13
4. Rebecca Ingram/Quinci Birker (STET) def. Adlee Van Winden/Josie Ulrich (CP) 21-14, 17-21, 15-9
5. Vanessa Roscoe/Brayden Gruenewald (CP) def. Kamryn Johnson/Madison Bobes (STET) 27-25, 15-21, 17-15
No. 16 TCU 3, No. 13 South Carolina 2
1. Daniela Alvarez/Olivia Beyer (TCU) def. Jess Vastine/Carly Schnieder (SC) 21-16, 21-15
2. Skylar Allen/Katie Smith (SC) def. Rochelle Scott/Jensyn Bledsoe (TCU) 21-15, 21-16
3. Taylor Bradley/Trinity Cavanaugh (TCU) def. Franky Harrison/Avery Davis (SC) 17-21, 21-10, 16-14
4. Madison Brabham/Hannah Edelman (SC) def. Hailey Brockett/Avery Arellano (TCU) 21-15, 21-14
5. Haven Hill/Jordan Westendorff (TCU) def. Kaeli Crews/Whitley Ballard (SC) 21-17, 19-21, 15-11
Tampa 4, HBU 1
1. Julia Oswald/Rachel Rosequist (UT) def. Tori Hinojosa/Danielle Okeke (HBU) 21-16, 21-15
2. Natalie Bennett/Elsa Descamps (HBU) def. Bri Civiero/Valerie Rosequist (UT) 17-21, 22-20, 15-13
3. Katie McKiel/Melissa Elias (UT) def. Lauren Huggins/Maddie Butters (HBU) 21-16, 21-17
4. Erica Haslag/Tatiana Gutierrez (UT) def. Brennan Miller/Amy Underdown (HBU) 21-17, 21-13
5. Selina Pfuner/Claire Overton (UT) def. Alison Stanfill/Lindsay Harris (HBU) 21-19, 24-22
No. 2 Florida State 4, No. 7 Cal Poly 1
1. Molly McBain/Alaina Chacon (FS) def. Torrey Van Winden/Macy Gordon (CP) 21-12, 21-18
2. Mariah Whalen/Tia Miric (CP) def. Alice Zeimann/Madison Fitzpatrick (FS) 21-15, 21-18
3. Kate Privett/Maddie Anderson (FS) def. Emily Sonny/Jayelin Lombard (CP) 21-17, 22-20
4. Payton Caffrey/Liz Waters-Leiga (FS) def. Adlee Van Winden/Josie Ulrich (CP) 21-10, 21-13
5. Jenna Johnson/Keara Rutz (FS) def. Vanessa Roscoe/Brayden Gruenewald (CP) 19-21, 21-17, 15-9
HBU 3, No. 9 Stetson 2
1. Tori Hinojosa/Danielle Okeke (HBU) def. Carly Perales/S. Helland-Hansen (STET) 22-20, 21-18
2. Ana Costa/Kyce Martins (STET) def. Natalie Bennett/Elsa Descamps (HBU) 21-17, 21-16
3. Lauren Huggins/Danielle Wheeler (HBU) def. Yasmin Kuck/Shae Henson (STET) 13-21, 22-20, 15-12
4. Brennan Miller/Lindsay Harris (HBU) def. Rebecca Ingram/Quinci Birker (STET) 27-25, 21-15
5. Kamryn Johnson/Madison Bobes (STET) def. Alison Stanfill/Amy Underdown (HBU) 21-13, 21-19
No. 16 TCU 5, Louisiana-Monroe 0
1. Daniela Alvarez/Olivia Beyer (TCU) def. Love, Gabby/Gallant, Kayla (ULM) 21-13, 21-12
2. Taylor Bradley/Trinity Cavanaugh (TCU) def. Convey, Grace/Blazek, Julia (ULM) 21-16, 19-21, 15-13
3. Rochelle Scott/Claire Doyle (TCU) def. Elder, Abbie/Smith, Bailey (ULM) 21-15, 21-15
4. Avery Arellano/Hailey Brockett (TCU) def. Brooks, Audrey/Ponthieux, Holland (ULM) 21-15, 21-18
5. Haven Hill/Jordan Westendorff (TCU) def. Moreland, Elizabeth/Kemp, Allie (ULM) 21-12, 21-15
No. 2 Florida State 5, No. 16 South Carolina 0
1. Molly McBain/Alaina Chacon (FS) def. Skylar Allen/Katie Smith (SC) 21-14, 21-11
2. Alice Zeimann/Madison Fitzpatrick (FS) def. Jess Vastine/Carly Schnieder (SC) 22-20, 24-22
3. Kate Privett/Maddie Anderson (FS) def. Madison Brabham/Hannah Edelman (SC) 21-15, 21-10
4. Payton Caffrey/Liz Waters-Leiga (FS) def. Franky Harrison/Avery Davis (SC) 21-17, 21-9
5. Jenna Johnson/Keara Rutz (FS) def. Morgyn Greer/Jordan Smith (SC) 21-17, 21-17
No. 2 Florida State 5, Tampa 0
1. Molly McBain/Alaina Chacon (FS) def. Julia Oswald/Rachel Rosequist (UT) 20-22, 21-15, 15-9
2. Madison Fitzpatrick/Alice Zeimann (FS) def. Bri Civiero/Valerie Rosequist (UT) 21-11, 21-9
3. Kate Privett/Maddie Anderson (FS) def. Katie McKiel/Melissa Elias (UT) 21-9, 21-19
4. Liz Waters-Leiga/Payton Caffrey (FS) def. Erica Haslag/Tatiana Gutierrez (UT) 21-15, 21-14
5. Ashley Robert/Lexi McKeown (FS) def. Selina Pfuner/Claire Overton (UT) 21-14, 21-15
South Carolina beach volleyball-NCAA mens beach 2/24/2020-Kaeli Crews
South Carolina’s Kaeli Crews celebrates a point against TCU/Tim Britt photo

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  1. You guys better keep an eye on Julia Oswald the Sophomore Standout at Tampa. FSU’s number 1 pair was taken to school in that first set plain and simple. Julia has some of the best hands in the college game and she is now beginning to grow more confident in using them. She is a student of the Italian’s playbook on offense and as she matures she is going to show the NCAA another level. Mark my Words, keep an I out for Rosequist/Oswald!


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