No. 1 USC Wins 2017 Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Championship

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    April 28, 2017

    TUCSON, Ariz. - In a battle between two of the nation's best, the top-seeded and No. 1-ranked USC beach volleyball team (34-1) prevailed over second-seeded No. 2 UCLA (29-4) in the finals of the 2017 Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Championships with a thrilling 3-2 victory at Bear Down Beach to claim their second consecutive conference title on Friday, April 28. The Women of Troy are now 34-1 on the season and will await selection into this year's NCAA championship tournament.

    After having their 62-match winning streak snapped in their early morning matchup against UCLA with a 3-2 loss in the winner's bracket semifinals, the Trojans had to fight their way through the contender's bracket to set up a rematch against the Bruins. It was in the finals of the tournament, though, when USC would flip the script and claim the 3-2 victory and the Pac-12 crown.

    The Trojans got off to a hot start in the match, winning the first set on four of five courts. Eventually, the first point of the dual was scored by seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes, who recorded a 21-8, 21-16 decision over UCLA's Megan McNamara and Nicole McNamara. The win would be Claes and Hughes' tenth in a row and their 40th victory this season overall. Shortly thereafter, UCLA tied things up at 1-1 in the dual over on court four, as USC's newly-formed pair of sophomores Abril Bustamante and Katrina Kernochan fell to Jordan Anderson and Izzy Carey, 18-21, 9-21.

    USC reclaimed the lead in the dual thanks to a win on court three by junior Terese Cannon and senior Nicolette Martin, who avenged their early morning loss to Elise Zappia and Torrey Van Winden with a 21-14, 21-18 win in the afternoon. However, UCLA tied things up in the dual once again at the five spot. After winning their first set 21-10 over UCLA's Lily Justine and Savy Simo, USC's junior duo of Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer dropped the next two sets 14-21, 13-15.

    The dual would then come down to court two, as seniors Sophie Bukovec and Allie Wheeler were engaged in a back-and-forth battle in the third set with Kamila Tan and Madi Yeomans. Bukovec and Wheeler, who defeated the UCLA pair in three sets earlier in the day, split the first two sets in this match, 21-10, 18-21. Then, after being down 13-12 late in the third, the veterans fended off the Bruin attack to reach match point at 14-13. The final long rally would end in the Trojans' favor, as Bukovec finished things off with a cross-court kill to clinch the dual and USC's second Pac-12 Championship, 3-2.

    When it was all said and done, all five USC seniors would be recognized by the conference for their achievements over the weekend. Claes and Hughes and Bukovec and Wheeler were named to the Pac-12 Beach Volleyball All-Tournament Team, while Martin received her Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.

    With team play now completed, USC sends its top two pairs of Claes/Hughes and Bukovec/Wheeler into the Pac-12 Pairs Championship beginning later today. The 18-team single-elimination tournament has Claes/Hughes seeded at No. 1 overall, as the seniors will face off against No. 16-seed Campbell/Anderson of Cal at approximately 6 p.m. Bukovec/Wheeler earned the No. 6 seed and will take on No. 11 seed Berridge/Okaro of Arizona State at 4 p.m. Should both Trojan pairs advance, the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Pairs Championship will begin on Saturday, April 29.

    For more information on the two-time national champion USC beach volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCBeach on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Instagram, and Snapchat.

    No. [1] USC def. No. [2] UCLA, 3-2
    2017 Pac-12 Championship • Championship Match 
    Bear Down Beach • Tucson, Ariz.
    Friday, April 28, 2017
    Records: USC (34-1), UCLA (29-4)
    1. Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes (USC) def. Megan McNamara/Nicole McNamara (UCLA); 21-8, 21-16
    2. Sophie Bukovec/Allie Wheeler (USC) def. Kamila Tan/Madi Yeomans (UCLA); 21-10, 18-21, 15-13
    3. Terese Cannon/Nicolette Martin (USC) def. Elise Zappia/Torrey Van Winden (UCLA); 21-14, 21-18
    4. Jordan Anderson/Izzy Carey (UCLA) def. Abril Bustamante/Katrina Kernochan (USC); 18-21, 9-21
    5. Lily Justine/Savy Simo (UCLA) def. Jenna Belton/Jo Kremer (USC); 21-10, 14-21, 13-15
    Order of finish: 1, 4, 3, 5, 2*