Undersized Ferary twins set big standards for Georgia State beach volleyball

Bella Ferary (L) and her twin sister Angel are senior stalwarts for the school's nationally ranked beach volleyball team. (Photo by Daniel Wilson/Georgia State Athletics)

Credit: Photo by Daniel Wilson/Georgia State Athletics

Credit: Photo by Daniel Wilson/Georgia State Athletics

Bella Ferary (L) and her twin sister Angel are senior stalwarts for the school's nationally ranked beach volleyball team. (Photo by Daniel Wilson/Georgia State Athletics)

Twin sisters Angel and Bella Ferary – who each stand 5-foot-4 – have been told their entire lives that they were too small to play competitive beach volleyball. That’s one reason they take such gratification in their success.

The Ferarys, who will graduate from Georgia State this spring, will leave as two of the more decorated players in the program’s history.

Last season they were chosen as second-team All-American and named Sun Belt Conference Pair of the Year. They are the pair with the most wins in program history.

Not bad for a couple of undersized girls called too little make it big.

“Ever since we started the recruiting process, we were told to aim low, aim for things that are more your speed,” Bella Ferary said. “We were told we weren’t meeting the height requirement, or we weren’t meeting the criteria they would normally see in a beach volleyball player.”

But instead of responding with words, the Ferarys let their actions speak for them.

“It just pushes us more to prove you’re wrong,” Angel Ferary said. “That has been a drive ever since we started the sport. It went from ‘you’re too small you’ll never get recruited’ and then when we got recruited it was ‘you’re too small you’ll never play together’ or ‘you’re too small to ever be successful in the way you think you will.’ It’s just a constant reassuring of ourselves that we can and pushing forward to these goals.”

Coach Beth Van Fleet, a Georgia State graduate and former professional beach volleyball player, saw the potential in the twins and recruited them when they were at Mount Paran Christian School. She’s watched in amazement at their determination and success.

“Their impact and their value on this team is just immeasurable,” Van Fleet said. “They are so driven and so meticulous, and they have to be. If they were OK with mediocre, they would never be playing in college.”

Bella Ferary earned her 93rd career victory against Mercer on March 22 to set a school record for most victories. She has four more wins than Angel, who is quite irritated by the fact. She said, “I know there’s nothing I can do about it.”

The twins are extremely competitive to the point where it almost seems to be adversarial on the sand. They’ll argue with each other and complain when the other fails to make a perfect setup or save.

“When you watch them play, they’re usually mean to each other,” Van Fleet said. “The way most people can relate to it is like if you were to play a competitive game with a sibling, just how hard that is. And they’re doing it under pressure, under a microscope every day – against all the odds.”

Beach volleyball is different than court volleyball. There are five matches that are contested by two-player teams or pairs. The No. 1 pair is the best, but that means playing the opposition’s best, too.

It hasn’t slowed the Ferarys. They already have beaten seven nationally ranked teams, including No. 6 Cal.

Bella Ferary said. “When we’re together it just unlocks something else that another partner can’t. We’ve been successful with other people, but we’ll never be the most successful unless we’re together. We just love that connection that not a lot of people are fortune enough to share.”

Angel, who is older by one minute – “and don’t think I don’t take advantage of that,” she joked – favors the math/science side of education. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree and will enroll in an accelerated two-year nursing program.

Bella is more oriented toward words. She will finish her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice this spring and will pursue a master’s degree in that field at Georgia State. She also hopes to become a coach, perhaps even at Georgia State.

The No. 15-ranked Panthers will host the Diggin’ Duals on Friday and Saturday at the GSU Beach Volleyball Complex. No. 8 LSU, No. 17 Stetson, Florida Gulf Coast and Sun Belt-rival Southern Mississippi make up the field.

Georgia State has won back-to-back conference titles and advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2022 and 2023.