No. 1 Trojans Ride Out No. 4 Waves to Seize Spot in AVCA Semifinal

    USC sand volleyball sophomore Nicolette Martin

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    Official AVCA Release and Bracket

    May 1, 2015

    GULF SHORES, Ala. - Against the ropes, the top-ranked USC women's sand volleyball team (26-0) fought back from a 2-0 deficit and claimed a trio of three-set victories to get a 3-2 win over No. 4 Pepperdine (11-5) in the quarterfinals of the 2015 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships on Friday, May 1.

    The Women of Troy took out the defending champion Waves by a score of 3-2 for the third time in as many meetings this season and will face seventh-seeded Long Beach State (15-4) in the first semifinal on Saturday, May 2, at 10 a.m. CT (8 a.m. PT). The Trojans have not faced the 49ers since 2013 but were 1-5 in six all-time meetings with LBSU in 2012-13.

    Despite a strong start by freshman Jenna Belton and senior Bria Russ at court five, the Waves got the first point of the dual with a 21-15, 22-20 win on a victory by Samantha Cash and Corinne Quiggle. It was the first time all season that the Women of Troy have not won at the No. 5 position.

    A matter of minutes had passed before Pepperdine made the move to go up, 2-0, in the match with a 21-18, 21-19 win on court three as Emily Cook and Delaney Knudsen defeated seniors Eve Ettinger and Meg Norton.

    On court two, the Waves had won the first set convincingly, 21-11, but USC's pair of sophomore Sophie Bukovec and junior Alexa Strange erased a three-point deficit to win the second set, 21-19. The Trojan duo stayed the course and completed a 15-13 win in the third set to put USC on the board, down, 2-1.

    At the top court, it was almost the opposite story as sophomores Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes powered through a 21-10 win in the first set, but dropped a tight 21-19 decision in the second set to Kelley Larsen and Kellie Woolever. Running neck and neck with the action on court four, Claes and Hughes stood fast and claimed a 15-13 win in the third to knot the score in the dual at two all.

    Left to decide the victor, sophomores Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler rode the rollercoaster to a 21-14 win in the first and a 21-16 loss in the second to Sophie Asprey and Katie Messing. The Trojans trailed, 10-8, in the third set, but dug deep to rip off an incredible 6-0 run and lead, 14-10, at match and dual point. The Waves scored one more, but Wheeler tooled the Pepperdine block to find the floor and win the match, 15-11.

    For more information on the USC sand volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit and follow @USCSandVBall on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

    MATCH #26: No. 1 USC 3, No. 4 Pepperdine 2
    2015 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships - Quarterfinal
    Gulf Shores, Ala.
    May 1, 2015
    Records: USC (26-0), Pepperdine (11-5)
    1. Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes (USC) def. Kelley Larsen/Kellie Woolever (PEP); 21-10, 20-22, 15-13
    2. Sophie Bukovec/Alexa Strange (USC) def. Lara Dykstra/Becca Strehlow (PEP); 11-21, 21-19, 15-13
    3. Emily Cook/Delaney Knudsen (PEP) def. Eve Ettinger/Meg Norton (USC); 21-18, 21-19
    4. Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler (USC) def. Sophie Asprey/Katie Messing (PEP); 21-14, 16-21, 15-11
    5. Samantha Cash/Corinne Quiggle (PEP) def. Jenna Belton/Bria Russ (USC); 21-15, 22-20
    Order of finish: 5, 3, 2, 1, 4*