Burnham-Hughes Win Inaugural Pac-12 Invitational Pairs Title

    Kirby Burnham (left) and Sara Hughes accept their pairs championship trophy from tournament administrator Todd Davis.

    April 20, 2014

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    USC senior Kirby Burnham and freshman Sara Hughes swept through four matches to win the inaugural Pac-12 Invitational pairs bracket championship on Easter Sunday (April 20) at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica, Calif.

    Burnham-Hughes, USC's No. 1 pairs team, won their fourth tournament pairs title of 2014 en route to upping their overall record to 34-3 this season, including winning their last 26 matches. Burnham, a 2013 All-American, won last year's AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship pairs title with Stevi Robinson.

    After getting a bye in the tourney's first round, Burnham-Hughes beat Cal State Bakersfield's Sydney Haynes-Danika Youngblood in the second round, 21-4, 21-9, Arizona State's Whitney Follette-Macey Gardner in the quarterfinals, 21-8, 21-12, and fellow Trojans Kelly Claes-Alexa Strange in the semifinals, 21-17, 21-12, before posting a 21-12, 21-17 victory over Arizona's Madi Kingdon-Ronni Lewis in the final.

    Claes-Strange, USC's No. 2 team, got to the semis after beating Arizona's Rachel Rhoades-Sarah Seiber in the second round, 21-12, 21-8, and Trojan teammates Eve Ettinger-Bria Russ in the quarters, 18-21, 22-20, 15-13.

    Sam Hirschmann-Natasa Siljkovic, USC's No. 3 team, lost their opening match to Cal State Bakersfield's Mariah Alvidrez-Shayna Guitare (who advanced to the semifinals), 21-15, 21-13, then got a consolation bracket victory over Cal State Bakersfield's Lisa Bartsch-Julia Bowen, 21-13, 21-11.

    Ettinger-Russ beat a pair of Arizona teams, Jazmine Campas-Emily Kiser in the first round, 21-8, 21-7, and Bianca Arellano-Bethany Jorgensen in the second round, 21-10, 21-19, before falling to Claes-Strange in the quarterfinals.

    The Women of Troy's No. 5 duo of Nicolette Martin-Allie Wheeler beat Arizona State's BreElle Bailey-Genevieve Pirotte in the first round, 21-11, 21-12, then fell to Cal State Bakersfield's No. 1 team of Debora Araujo-Molly O'Hagan in the second round, 21-18, 24-22. Martin-Wheeler went on to notch a 23-21, 21-11 win over Rhoades-Seiber of Arizona in the consolation bracket.

    On Friday (April 19), top-ranked USC won the team portion of the Pac-12 Invitational by recording 5-0 sweeps over Cal State Bakersfield, Arizona State and then Loyola Marymount in the final.

    USC now goes on the road to Tucson, Ariz., to face host Arizona and visitor Boise State in a pair of regular season-ending team duals this Saturday (April 26).