No. 1 Women of Troy Claim Pac-12 Invitational Crown|
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April 18, 2015
SANTA MONICA, Calif. - The No. 1-ranked USC women's sand volleyball team (24-0) earned three victories at the Annenberg Community Beach House on Saturday, April 18, to win the 2015 Pac-12 Invitational title. The Women of Troy completed the regular-season dual schedule with a perfect 24-0 and set a new school-record winning streak. Trojan pairs dropped just three sets en route to a 4-1 win over Arizona State (6-11) and a pair of 5-0 wins over No. 10 Arizona (15-3).
Sophomores Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler picked up three wins to become the fourth USC pair to cross the 25-win plateau this season. On court five, senior Bria Russ and Jenna Belton won three matches and are now one away from also reaching 25 wins. Russ herself finished the regular season with a perfect 24-0 mark in duals.
In the first match of the day, the Trojans met the Sun Devils in the first round. Belton and Russ fired the first shot with a 21-5, 21-7 win over Frances Giedraitis and Kwyn Johnson on court five. Martin and Wheeler finished and delivered a 21-7, 21-13 win over Mia Rivera and McKenzie Willey at court four. Sophomores Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes clinched the dual at the top court on their 21-12, 21-11 win over Bianca Arellano and Macey Gardner.
Seniors Eve Ettinger and Meg Norton made the score, 4-0, for USC with their 21-9, 21-19 win over Whitney Follette and Halle Harker on court three, but the Devils thwarted the Trojans' shutout bid when Jordy Checkal and Bethany Jorgensen beat USC's pair of sophomore Sophie Bukovec and junior Alexa Strange, 25-23, 21-17, on court two.
In the false semifinal of a double-elimination bracket, the Trojans met the Wildcats for the first time this season once again started things off with a win from court five. Belton and Russ took out Hailey Devlin and Sarah Seiber, 21-10, 21-12, for the first point. Claes and Hughes downed twin sisters Madison and McKenna Witt, 21-14, 21-14, to make the score 2-0.
Ettinger and Norton sealed the win and a trip to the title match on their 21-8, 21-12 win over Emily Kiser and Rachel Rhoades on court three. Bukovec and Strange bounced back from their loss and completed a 21-81, 21-17 win over Kaitlyn Leary and Kendall Polan at No. 2 to give USC a 4-0 lead. It took a couple extra points, but Martin and Wheeler put a 5-0 win on the board when they defeated Taylor Arizobal and Allie Cook, 21-12, 26-24, at court four.
Despite the loss, the Wildcats battled back and earned a tough 3-2 win over Arizona State to find themselves in the title match. It was much of the same story however as the Trojans got off to a 2-0 start with wins at courts three and five. At three, Ettinger and Norton knocked off Kiser and Rhoades, 21-5, 21-13; at five, Belton and Russ came through with a 23-21, 21-7 win. Claes and Hughes clinched the dual again; this time with a 21-18, 21-14 win over the Witt sisters.
With the title in hand, USC added a fourth point from court two with a 21-17, 21-19 win by Bukovec and Strange over Leary and Polan. In the Trojans' only three-set match, Martin and Wheeler earned a 21-16, 21-23, 15-11 victory over Arizobal and Cook to bring home the 5-0 sweep.
The Trojans will play in two pairs' tournament brackets tomorrow (April 19). A silver bracket with 4s and 5s pairs from all five participating teams will play in a 10-pair single-elimination tourney. The gold bracket features 1s, 2s, and 3s in a 15-team single-elimination tournament. Play begins at 9 a.m. PT.
For more information on the USC sand volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCSandVBall on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
MATCH #22: No. 1 USC 4, Arizona State 1
MATCH #23: No. 1 USC 5, No. 10 Arizona 0
MATCH #24: No. 1 USC 5, No. 10 Arizona 0