Claes and Hughes Claim USC Pairs Tournament Crown

    Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes strung together four wins to claim the USC Pairs Tournament title.

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    March 14, 2015

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    LOS ANGELES - USC women's sand volleyball sophomores Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes earned four wins to claim the USC Pairs Tournament title at Merle Norman Stadium on Saturday, March 14. With seniors Eve Ettinger and Meg Norton, the Women of Troy had two tandems in the semifinals and produced the winning pair for the third straight year. The 20-team single-elimination tournament featured pairs from No. 3 USC, No. 4 Florida State, and No. 6 Loyola Marymount.

    Hughes and Kirby Burnham won the 2014 tournament title and Burnham and Stevi Robinson took home the 2013 crown. In the only other year of the tournament, Florida State's team of Aurora Newgard and Brittany Tiegs won the title in 2012.

    Following their first-round bye, Claes and Hughes won their match in the round of 16, 28-19, over Taylor Nyquist and Katherine Plessy of FSU. Claes and Hughes then took out Loyola Marymount's duo of Avery Bush and Anne Marie Taylor, 21-11, 21-11, in the quarters. The Trojans had to face Florida State's team of Victoria Paranagua and Kristina Pellitteri in the semifinals and came away with a 21-15, 21-15 victory to move into the finals. There, Claes and Hughes avenged a loss from the day before by beating LMU's Betsi Metter and Sarah Sponcil, 21-13, 21-8.

    Ettinger and Norton used a 28-18 win in their round of 16 match to get past Taylor Scioscia and Rachelle Suaava of LMU and then defeated Florida State's Julie Brown and Melanie Pavels in the quarterfinals, 21-13, 21-18. Ettinger and Norton ran into Metter and Sponcil in the semifinals and ended up on the short end of a 21-17, 21-16 decision.

    USC's other pairs were each eliminated in either the first round or the round of 16. Freshman Jenna Belton and senior Bria Russ were taken out by Florida State's Katie Horton and Kayla Joyce, 30-28, in the first round. Freshmen Lorna Brandt and Jo Kremer fell to Lindsay Carr and Kristen Castellanos of LMU, 28-26, in the first round; and sophomore Paige Hines and senior Alexa Stonish dropped a 28-26 match to Blyss Harkness and Sierra Sanchez of FSU.

    The Trojans' sophomore duo of Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler fell, 28-24, in the round of 16 to Paranagua and Pellitteri, but came back to take a 21-18, 21-13 win over Carr and Castellanos in a consolation match. Sophomore Sophie Bukovec and junior Alexa Strange lost their match in the round of 16, 31-29, to Vanessa Freire and Annie Montgomery of Florida State, but bounced back to get a 21-15, 24-22 win over Nyquist and Plessy in consolation.

    USC leaves home for the first time this season as the Trojans visit the islands to take on No. 1 Hawai'i, California, and Nebraska in dual matches in Honolulu. The Women of Troy will also take part in the 2015 Rainbow Wahine Spring Challenge on Queen's Beach next weekend while the USC campus is on spring break.

    For more information on the USC sand volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit and follow @USCSandVBall on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

    Merle Norman Stadium | Los Angeles, Calif.
    Saturday, March 14, 2015

    FIRST ROUND | 4 matches (1 set to 28)
    1) Taylor Nyquist/Katherine Plessy (FSU6) def. Christine Kerrigan-Okamoto/Nicky Kevorken (LMU6); 28-16
    2) Katie Horton/Kayla Joyce (FSU7) def. Jenna Belton/Bria Russ (USC5); 30-28
    3) Lindsay Carr/Kristen Castellanos (LMU5) def. Lorna Brandt/Jo Kremer (USC6); 28-26
    4) Blyss Harkness/Sierra Sanchez (FSU5) def. Paige Hines/Alexa Stonish (USC7); 28-26

    ROUND OF 16 | 8 matches (1 set to 28)
    5) Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes (USC1) def. Taylor Nyquist/Katherine Plessy (FSU6); 28-19
    6) Avery Bush/Anne Marie Taylor (LMU3) def. Stephanie Pellitteri/Sarah Wickstrom (FSU3); 28-26
    7) Katie Horton/Kayla Joyce (FSU7) def. Taylor Akana/Litara Keil (LMU2); 28-20
    8) Victoria Paranagua/Kristina Pellitteri (FSU2) def. Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler (USC4); 28-24
    9) Julie Brown/Melanie Pavels (FSU1) def. Lindsay Carr/Kristen Castellanos (LMU5); 28-8
    10) Eve Ettinger/Meg Norton (USC3) def. Taylor Scioscia/Rachelle Suaava (LMU4); 28-18
    11) Betsi Metter/Sarah Sponcil (LMU1) def. Blyss Harkness/Sierra Sanchez (FSU5); 28-16
    12) Vanessa Freire/Annie Montgomery (FSU4) def. Sophie Bukovec/Alexa Strange (USC2); 31-29

    QUARTERFINALS | 4 matches
    13) Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes (USC1) def. Avery Bush/Anne Marie Taylor (LMU3); 21-11, 21-11
    14) Victoria Paranagua/Kristina Pellitteri (FSU2) def. Katie Horton/Kayla Joyce (FSU7); 21-15, 21-16
    15) Eve Ettinger/Meg Norton (USC3) def. Julie Brown/Melanie Pavels (FSU1); 21-13, 21-18
    16) Betsi Metter/Sarah Sponcil (LMU1) def. Vanessa Freire/Annie Montgomery (FSU4); 21-13, 14-21, 15-12

    CONSOLATION | 4 matches
    17) Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler (USC4) def. Lindsay Carr/Kristen Castellanos (LMU5); 21-18, 21-13
    18) Taylor Akana/Litara Keil (LMU2) def. Taylor Scioscia/Rachelle Suaava (LMU4); 21-13, 21-13
    21) Blyss Harkness/Sierra Sanchez (FSU5) def. Meghan Conway/Sarah Wickstrom (FSU3); 21-15, 19-21, 18-16
    22) Sophie Bukovec/Alexa Strange (USC2) def. Taylor Nyquist/Katherine Plessy (FSU6); 21-15, 24-22

    SEMIFINALS | 2 matches
    19) Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes (USC1) def. Victoria Paranagua/Kristina Pellitteri (FSU2); 21-15, 21-15
    20) Betsi Metter/Sarah Sponcil (LMU1) def. Eve Ettinger/Meg Norton (USC3); 21-17, 21-16

    FINALS | 1 match
    23) Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes (USC1) def. Betsi Metter/Sarah Sponcil (LMU1); 21-13, 21-8