Davis on verge of becoming 'Queen of Sand' - South Lake Press: Sports

Davis on verge of becoming 'Queen of Sand'

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Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2014 6:00 am

Aurora Davis is listed at 5-foot-9 on the Florida State University website, but she is a giant in the world of collegiate sand volleyball.

The former South Lake High School multi-sport standout teamed up with Jace Pardon this season and the duo has bolted to a 30-1 record and led FSU to a No. 4 ranking with the national championship tournament about two weeks away.

Davis and Pardon left no doubt they are focused on the sport’s big prize with a dominant performance last weekend at Fiesta on Siesta Key event. The pair won four matches without dropping a game to win their second straight pairs tournament title.

In the title match, Davis and Pardon knocked off the University of North Florida’s Dagnija Medina and Kim Hildreth 21-15 and 21-14.

“Jace and Aurora were super impressive,” FSU coach Danalee Corso said after the Siesta Key tournament. “They made me believe they have the ability to win a national championship. If they can play like they did today, the sky is the limit.”

Davis and Pardon set the stage for a breakout year when the Seminoles travelled to Long Beach, California early in the season to square off against Long Beach State, the defending national champions. As the Seminoles’ top team, Davis and Pardon was slotted for a Court 1 match against the 49ers’.

Against Delainey Aigner-Swesey and Bojana Todorovic, Davis and Pardon sent a message to the sand volleyball nation with a 21-17 and 21-13 win to lead the Seminoles to a 3-2 team victory — the first time FSU had ever beaten Long Beach State in dual play.

“Any time you beat the defending national champions it’s a huge win,” Corso said following the match. “Jace and Aurora were fantastic on Court 1 as they have been all year.”

The Seminoles’ top team has been so dominant this season that it has been forced to a third game in only two matches this season. And on both occasions, Davis and Pardon walked away with the win.

Davis and Pardon enter this week’s FSU Pairs Tournament in Tallahassee riding a 19 match winning streak, having not lost since March 15.

“I have such an awesome partner and friend,” Davis said of Pardon.

Davis has been an integral part of the sport’s growth at the college level. She was part of the first season collegiate sand volleyball in 2012, after transferring to FSU as a sophomore.

Prior to that, Davis played indoor volleyball at State College of Florida in Sarasota, where she was earned All-America honors. but followed her heart by transferring to FSU.

“My favorite has always been beach,” Davis said.

As a sophomore, in 2012, Davis recorded a 50-7-1 record and reached the quarterfinals of the National Championships with playing partner Brittany Tiegs. She didn’t start the season as member of the Seminoles’ No. 1 team, but Davis became a dominant player after being paired with Tiegs, sporting a 22-2-1 record and winning three tournament titles afterwards.

Davis was named to the sport’s first All-America team in 2012.

In her junior season, Davis had a 22-9 record and reached the semifinals at nationals.

As her most dominant season begins to wind down, Davis will be honored for her accomplishments on Friday when FSU celebrates Senior Day. She recently earned All-America honors for the second time and likely will be recognized as one of the top college players in the history of the sport.

Davis will get the chance to put a bow on her career at the American Volleyball Coaches Association Sand Volleyball National Championships May 2-4 in Gulf Shores, Ala.

As Corso and Davis’ teammates have learned over the past three seasons, it would not be surprising if Davis left Gulf Shores with a share of the national championship in a sport many consider to be a tall-person’s game.

“(Davis and Pardon) aren’t the tallest team in the nation, but they make up for that by being complete players,” Corso said. “Their defense is incredibly good. They both dig so well. They make great choices on the court. They have so many different tools — ball control, serving and setting.

They can do it all and they are so much fun to coach.”

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