No. 2 Trojans Ride Out Waves For 4-1 Win Over No. 1 Pepperdine

    USC sand volleyball junior Bria Russ

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    March 25, 2014

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    LOS ANGELES - The second-ranked USC women's sand volleyball team (8-1) toppled No. 1 Pepperdine (7-1) at Merle Norman Stadium on Tuesday, March 25, to hand the Waves their first-ever regular-season loss. The Women of Troy extended their program-best winning streak to seven matches and notched their first-ever win over Pepperdine in seven meetings. The Waves, which had previously only lost once (in the 2013 national championship match), came into the dual with a 41-1 all-time mark in three seasons.

    USC's freshman tandem of Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler got things rolling on court five where they earned a 21-14, 21-17 win over Samantha Cash and Taylor Racich.

    At No. 4, juniors Eve Ettinger and Bria Russ let a big first set lead slip away to Emily Cook and Katie Messing and dropped a 21-19 decision to the Waves. The two Trojans opened the second set strong, but found themselves in a dog fight down the stretch before they pulled out a 23-21 win to even the match. USC and Pepperdine traded barbs in the third until Ettinger scored a kill and a block on back-to-back rallies to push the Trojans to a 15-12 win for a 2-0 lead in the dual.

    First sets concluded at nearly the same time on all three of the top courts but seniors Sam Hirschmann and Natasa Siljkovic had the most impressive set score with a 21-12 win over Delaney Knudsen and Caitlin Racich at court three. At the top court, senior Kirby Burnham and freshman Sara Hughes claimed a 21-17 win over Lara Dykstra and Becca Strehlow. The Waves had court two where Kelley Larsen and Kellie Woolever knocked off USC's duo of sophomore Alexa Strange and freshman Kelly Claes, 21-18, in the first set.

    The Women of Troy clinched the dual at the top court where Burnham and Hughes completed a 21-15 second-set win over Dykstra and Strehlow. Hirschmann and Siljkovic were just a step behind when they took out Knudsen and Caitlin Racich, 21-15, in the second to put 4-0 on the scoreboard for the Trojans. The Waves scored from the second court when Larsen and Woolever defeated Claes and Strange, 21-14, in the second set.

    The Trojans are back in action on Thursday (March 27) in the first-ever live broadcasts by the Pac-12 Networks. USC hosts a pair of first-year programs for duals at Merle Norman Stadium beginning with Cal State Northridge (0-7) at 3 p.m. PT and followed by Oregon (1-4) at 4:30 p.m. Oregon and CSUN will play in a non-televised neutral match at 6 p.m. Anne Marie Anderson will be on hand to provide play-by-play with beach volleyball star Holly McPeak alongside for color commentary. Please visit for more information.

    No. 2 USC 4, No. 1 Pepperdine 1
    Merle Norman Stadium | Los Angeles, Calif.
    Tuesday, March 25, 2014
    Records: USC (8-1), Pepperdine (7-1)
    1. Kirby Burnham/Sara Hughes (USC) def. Lara Dykstra/Becca Strehlow (PEP); 21-17, 21-15
    2. Kelley Larsen/Kellie Woolever (PEP) def. Kelly Claes/Alexa Strange (USC); 21-18, 21-14
    3. Sam Hirschmann/Natasa Siljkovic (USC) def. Delaney Knudsen/Caitlin Racich (PEP); 21-12, 21-15
    4. Eve Ettinger/Bria Russ (USC) def. Emily Cook/Katie Messing (PEP); 19-21, 23-21, 15-12
    5. Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler (USC) def. Samantha Cash/Taylor Racich (PEP); 21-14, 21-17
    Order of finish: 5, 4, 1*, 3, 2