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

    USC beach junior Kelly Claes and partner Sara Hughes have won 69 straight matches.

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    May 1, 2016

    LOS ANGELES -- The top-seeded and No. 1-ranked USC beach volleyball team (30-2) defeated third-seeded No. 6 Arizona (18-5) in a 3-0 sweep to claim the first-ever Pac-12 Championship at Merle Norman Stadium on Sunday, May 1. The Women of Troy won their 26th straight match and will now await selection into the first-ever NCAA championship.

    In a staggered-start format, the Trojans at court five took a 23-21 win as sophomore Jo Kremer and Zoe Nightingale defeated MacKenzie Kleespies and Hailey Devlin in the first set. Kleepsies and Devlin had other plans and won the second, 21-18. At the same time, sophomore Jenna Belton and freshman Abril Bustamante completed their 21-14, 21-12 win over Mia Mason and Kalei Mau at court four to take the first point of the dual.

    At the top court, juniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes were nursing a small lead in the second set after taking a 21-10 win over Madison and McKenna Witt in the first. Kremer and Nightingale posted a second point in the dual when they fought through the third to take a 15-11 win at court five. It was the 13th straight win for the court-five duo. The clinching point came from the top court where Claes and Hughes finished off a 21-14 second set. It was the 69th straight win for Claes and Hughes who are now 44-0 on the season.

    With the dual clinched, play was suspended at the other courts. On two, junior Sophie Bukovec and senior Alexa Strange had dropped a 21-15 first set to Jianna Bomoni and Katarina Scholz. At court three, juniors Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler led Olivia Macdonald and Sam Manley, 9-4, in the first set at the stop.

    Both Claes, Hughes and the Witt twins were named to the first-ever All-Tournament Team in a vote by the league's head coaches. They were joined by Megan and Nicole McNamara, and Zana Muno and Jessyka Ngauamo of UCLA, Bianca Arellano and Whitney Follette of Arizona State, and Crissy Jones and Tia Scambray of Washington.

    The Women of Troy now await selection and seeding into the inaugural NCAA Championships set for May 6-8 at Gulf Place in Gulf Shores, Ala. The NCAA will make its selections and announcement at 7 p.m. PT today. The Trojans are the defending national champions and claimed the 2015 AVCA title for USC's 123rd all-time team championship.

    For more information on the USC beach volleyball team, please visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCBeach on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, and Snapchat.

    [1] No. 1 USC 3, [3] No. 6 Arizona 0
    2016 Pac-12 Championship • Championship Match
    Merle Norman Stadium • Los Angeles, Calif.
    Sunday, May 1, 2016
    Records: USC (30-2), Arizona (18-5)
    1. Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes (USC) def. Madison Witt/McKenna Witt (ARIZ); 21-10, 21-14
    2. Sophie Bukovec/Alexa Strange (USC) vs. Jianna Bonomi/Katarina Scholz (ARIZ); 15-21 DNF
    3. Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler (USC) vs. Olivia Macdonald/Sam Manley (ARIZ); 9-4 DNF
    4. Jenna Belton/Abril Bustamante (USC) def. Mia Mason/Kalei Mau (ARIZ); 21-14, 21-12
    5. Jo Kremer/Zoe Nightingale (USC) def. MacKenzie Kleespies/Hailey Devlin (ARIZ); 23-21, 18-21, 15-11
    Order of finish: 4, 5, 1*