Florida State welcomes in another local volleyball star

One local community member is leaving a legacy on the Florida State University women's volleyball program, while the other is hoping to start one of her own.

FSU has had the good fortune of having former Cardinal Gibbons High School star Jenna Romanelli on board the last four years. Come August, it will have Pompano Beach High School's Stephanie Pellitteri, a beach volleyball talent, in the mix.

The 22-year-old Romanelli, of Lighthouse Point, and the 18-year-old Deerfield Beach native Pellitteri have many common interests including a passion for volleyball.

While Romanelli can be considered the queen of the court for her stellar indoor play, Pellitteri can claim the moniker of queen of the beach for her outstanding play in that realm of the sport played along the oceanfront.

Romanelli, the youngest sibling, tagged along with her sisters at their club and school practices and was playing volleyball in third grade. A self-professed gym rat, the 22-year-old followed in the footsteps of her mother Charn, who won a state championship with coach Louise Crocco at Cardinal Gibbons.

Jenna was able to duplicate that feat under coach Crocco by leading her '06-'07 team to a perfect 32-0 season.

The 5-foot-4 libero specialist was not recruited by FSU, but didn't let that deter from her lifelong dream of playing with the Lady 'Noles.

"It was pre-ordained. My mom, dad and sisters all went to FSU and I annoyed the coaches for over a year to get a tryout," Romanelli said. "I went from being told that I wasn't going to play, or even travel with the team, to starting my freshman year. My junior year we won the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) championship for the first time in school history and made the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Elite 8. I wear that championship ring with pride."

Romanelli ranks fourth best in school history in career digs, and recorded the second most digs ever in a season.

"Jenna did an outstanding job for us as a team captain her junior and senior year and is a great role model for our program," said Florida State volleyball coach Chris Poole. "The team greatly respected her because of the example she set on and off the court. She made a tremendous amount of improvement through hard work and dedication. She was our starting libero for a historic run for our program these past two years."

Great news arrived for the Pellitteri family when the NCAA recently announced that women's sand volleyball would become a sanctioned college sport. As one of the top junior players in the nation, Pellitteri made history by being the first player to commit to an NCAA sand scholarship.

The FSU tradition was too strong to pass up for Pellitteri, as she eagerly awaits national signing day on April 13.

"Because beach volleyball is so new, I was concerned that most colleges didn't have much to offer," Pellitteri said. "After it was approved, I made the commitment to be a Seminole and I am very excited. Maybe I'll set an FSU trend for my two younger sisters. I owe a lot to AVP beach pros Cindy Phillips and Kendra VanZwieten, and the Club Beach Dig program."

Romanelli dispensed some advice to her soon to be fellow Seminole.

"Work as hard as you can and never give up," Romanelli said. "It's tough, but the rewards are so great. Live your dreams. I did."

 

Article brought to you by Sun Sentinel:

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/pompano-beach/fl-pbf-fsu-0331-20110331,0,1363485.story


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