No. 1 USC Beats LBSU to Reach First AVCA Title Match

    USC will play in its first-ever AVCA championship match.

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    May 2, 2015

    GULF SHORES, Ala. - The No. 1-ranked USC women's sand volleyball team (27-0) defeated No. 6 Long Beach State (16-6) for a hard-fought 4-1 decision in the semifinals of the 2015 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships on Saturday, May 2. The Women of Troy stayed undefeated to reach the program's first-ever AVCA title match. The Trojans will face either fourth-seeded Pepperdine (13-5) or seventh-seeded LBSU in the final dual of the 2015 season at 4 p.m. CT (2 p.m. PT).

    In another barnburner of a match, the top two courts finished first to a one-all tie, and left courts three, four, and five to decide the outcome. All three went down to the wire with Nos. 3 and 5 up for grabs for either team in third sets.

    At the No. 1 position, sophomores Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes took care of business with a 21-19, 21-17 win over Delainey Aigner-Swesey and Chelsea Cabrajac to give the Trojans the dual's first point. The USC duo crushed 28 kills on just 42 swings and served up three aces in the win. The 49ers answered with a win on court two as Anete Brinke and Tyler Jackson defeated Sophie Bukovec and Alexa Strange, 21-15, 21-19, to knot the score at one.

    At court four, the Trojans' sophomore tandem of Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler ran up a 21-16 win over Andrea McHugh and Ciana Wagner in the first set, but got caught in a 20-all tie after holding match point at 20-19. Martin and Wheeler fought off five set points to take the second, 27-25, and complete the 2-0 sweep to put USC on top, 2-1.

    Concurrently, Trojans on courts three and five had to win their second sets to force three-setters. At No. 3, seniors Eve Ettinger and Meg Norton dropped a tight 21-19 decision to Jenelle Hudson and Bre Mackie in their first set, but came back to win, 21-15, in the second. The two faced a 6-3 deficit, and trailed for most of the third set.

    On court five, freshman Jenna Belton and senior Bria Russ were overwhelmed in the first set, 21-13, by Rachel Nieto and Sammee Thomas, but fought for a 21-17 win in the second set. The USC duo held a 13-10 lead in the third set, but faced match point, down, 14-13. In an incredible turn of events, Belton and Russ earned the final three points to complete a 16-14 win and sealed the dual for the Trojans. Seconds later, Ettinger and Norton completed their comeback and put a 15-13 win in the books to give USC its 4-1 victory.

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

    MATCH #27: No. 1 USC 4, No. 6 Long Beach State 1
    2015 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships - Semifinal
    Gulf Shores, Ala.
    Saturday, May 2, 2015
    Records: USC (27-0), Long Beach State (16-6)
    1. Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes (USC) def. Delainey Aigner-Swesey/Chelsea Cabrajac (LBSU); 21-19, 21-17
    2. Anete Brinke/Tyler Jackson (LBSU) def. Sophie Bukovec/Alexa Strange (USC); 21-15, 21-19
    3. Eve Ettinger/Meg Norton (USC) def. Jenelle Hudson/Bre Mackie (LBSU); 19-21, 21-15, 15-13
    4. Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler (USC) def. Andrea McHugh/Ciana Wagner (LBSU); 21-16, 27-25
    5. Jenna Belton/Bria Russ (USC) def. Rachel Nieto/Sammee Thomas (LBSU); 13-21, 21-17, 16-14
    Order of finish: 1, 2, 4, 5*, 3