Claes and Hughes Win Inaugural Pac-12 Pairs Crown|
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April 29, 2016
LOS ANGELES -- The top-seeded USC duo of juniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes claimed the first-ever Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Pairs Championship on a 22-20, 22-20 win over Arizona's second-seeded team of Madison and McKenna Witt at Merle Norman Stadium on Friday, April 29. The Women of Troy remained undefeated on the season (40-0) and extended their winning streak to 65 consecutive matches.
The first set was a tight affair but the Witts led by as many as three points at the technical timeout, 12-9. A 3-0 run by the Trojan pair knotted the score, but the pairs went back and forth all the way to a 20-all tie. Hughes tooled the Arizona block for a 21-20 lead before Claes put down the final point on an overpassed ball. In the second set, Claes and Hughes went up, 14-12, when Claes found the corner, but the Witts tied the score and then went ahead, 16-15, on a tip kill by McKenna. Claes' cut-shot kill put USC up, 17-16, but the Wildcats produced a small run to knot the score at 20-all just like in the first set. Again, Claes and Hughes buckled down to claim the final two points for the win.
Claes and Hughes took out the fourth-seeded Arizona State duo of Bianca Arellano and Whitney Follette, 21-13, 21-15, in the semifinal. They Trojan pair never trailed in the match and held a 13-8 lead halfway through the first frame. They extended to a 17-11 lead and then pressed ahead for a 21-13 finish. The Sun Devils maintained contact in the second set, but Claes and Hughes stepped away at 10-7 to create the first significant lead. From there, they doubled up the ASU pair on a 15-8 run to close out the 21-15 win.
Next up, the top-ranked and top-seeded Trojans (26-2) begin the team portion of the Pac-12 championships at 1 p.m. PT in the first round against Oregon (2-8). The Women of Troy have won 22 straight duals.
For more information on the USC beach volleyball team, please visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCBeach on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, and Snapchat.
2016 PAC-12 PAIRS CHAMPIONSHIP