No. 1 USC Women's Sand Volleyball Falls To No. 2 Pepperdine In AVCA Semis

    Nicolette Martin

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    May 3, 2014

    GULF SHORES, Ala. - The No. 1-ranked USC women's sand volleyball team dropped a tightly-contested 3-2 decision to No. 2 Pepperdine in the semifinals of the 2014 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship on Saturday (May 3) in Gulf Shores, Ala.

    USC, which also lost by a 3-2 score to eventual national champion Long Beach State in the semifinals last year in the Trojans' first-ever trip to the AVCA team championship, finished its season with a 23-3 record. Pepperdine improved to 17-1.

    The Women of Troy got on the board first as the No. 5 team of Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler swept Victoria Adelhelm/Sophie Asprey, 21-16, 21-16. Pepperdine then went up 2-1 with victories on Court 4 (Emily Cook/Katie Messing over Eve Ettinger/Bria Russ, 21-18, 21-17) and then Court 3 (Delaney Knudsen/Caitlin Racich over Sam Hirschmann/Natasa Siljkovic, 21-18, 21-16). Court 2 was the next to finish and it went extra time before Lara Dykstra/Becca Strehlow clinched the team win for the Waves with a 21-18, 23-21 victory over Kelly Claes/Alexa Strange. USC's No. 1 duo of Kirby Burnham/Sara Hughes then captured Court 1 with a 19-21, 22-20, 18-16 win over Kelley Larsen/Kellie Woolever.

    The Trojans-Waves match was the teams' third meeting of 2014, with the schools' splitting the earlier contests. USC's home win over the Waves in March still stands as the only loss in Pepperdine's 3-year program history. Pepperdine holds a 7-1 series edge over USC.

    Pepperdine now advances to its third straight AVCA championship match, where it will take on No. 3 Florida State. The Waves won the inaugural title in 2012 before falling to Long Beach State last year.

    The AVCA tourney concludes with a pairs championship on Sunday (May 4) starting at 8 a.m. CT, with the duos of Burnham-Hughes and Claes-Strange competing for the Women of Troy. Burnham won the pairs crown in 2013 with fellow USC All-American Stevi Robinson.

    1. Kirby Burnham/Sara Hughes (USC) def. Kelley Larsen/Kellie Woolever (PEP) 19-21, 22-20, 18-16
    2. Lara Dykstra/Becca Strehlow (PEP) def. Kelly Claes/Alexa Strange (USC) 21-18, 23-21
    3. Delaney Knudsen/Caitlin Racich (PEP) def. Sam Hirshmann/Natasa Siljkovic (USC) 21-18, 21-16
    4. Emily Cook/Katie Messing (PEP) def. Eve Ettinger/Bria Russ (USC) 21-18, 21-17
    5. Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler (USC) def. Sophie Asprey/Victoria Adelhelm (PEP) 21-16, 21-16
    Order of finish: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1