No. 1 Trojans Set for Cat Fights with Panthers and Tigers|
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March 8, 2017
LOS ANGELES -- The top-ranked USC beach volleyball team (2-0) carries a record 32-match winning streak into a pair of contests this weekend at the East Meets West Invitational hosted by UCLA at the Manhattan Beach Pier. The Trojans take on No. 12 Florida International (5-1) at 10:30 a.m. PT on Saturday, March 11, and then face No. 10 Louisiana State (1-2) in a 12:30 p.m.
The Women of Troy will meet their fourth straight ranked opponent to open the season. USC started the year off with wins over then No. 3-ranked UCLA (3-2) and No. 4 Pepperdine (4-1). The Trojans' streak as it stands is the 12th longest among program records from USC's 21 varsity sports. In all, the Women of Troy have won 64 of their last 66 dual matches dating to the beginning of 2015. Sixth-year head coach Anna Collier is the only collegiate head coach with more than 100 wins and is 110-17 overall.
LAST TIME OUT: The Women of Troy started the 2017 campaign with a pair of victories at the Pepperdine Kick-Off and extended their record streak to 32 consecutive wins. USC defeated crosstown rival UCLA--ranked No. 3 at the time--by a 3-2 count and then followed up with a 4-1 victory over No. 4-ranked Pepperdine at Zuma Beach. The Trojans' top pair of Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes pushed their incredible winning streak to 75 straight dating back to 2015 while USC's newly-formed junior duo of Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer went 2-0 at court five. Despite taking splits down the middle of the lineup, the Trojans' courts two, three, and four showed that they can compete on the highest level, each taking key wins in the two duals.
SCOUTING REPORT: The Trojans will meet LSU for the first time in program history, but get a second shot against Florida International at this weekend's tournament. USC beat FIU, 5-0, last April at the Panthers' Surf and Turf tournament in Miami, Fla.
INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION: Before the Trojans get started at the East Meets West Invitational, USC hosts pairs from Team USA, Poland, and China for friendly exhibition matches at Merle Norman Stadium on Friday, March 10. Play will begin at 11 a.m. PT and admission is free to the general public.
HOME, SWEET, HOME: The Women of Troy are 34-4 at Merle Norman Stadium since the venue's opening in 2013. The Trojans won 19 straight home matches between 2014 and 2016; and went 10-0 in 2015 and 8-0 in 2014 on MNS sand. USC currently owns an eight-match winning streak at the stadium. Only three teams have ever come to Merle Norman Stadium and beaten the Trojans: Florida State (twice), Long Beach State, and Pepperdine.
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS: On Saturday, April 23, 2016, USC defeated Hawai'i, 3-0, to make head coach Anna Collier the first collegiate beach volleyball coach to reach the 100 career victories mark. She is currently 110-17 all-time.
SENIOR CITIZENS: The Trojans' seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes are the winningest pair in program history. The duo has won 94 matches (3 losses) together over the course of a three-year relationship. Seniors Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler formed the second-most successful duo in school history from 2014-16 as they amassed 91 victories (91-14) through the end of the 2016 NCAA championship run. Claes and Hughes own the USC single-season record for wins with a 48-0 mark achieved in 2016.
LET'S GO STREAKING: USC set a new program record to close the 2016 season as winners of 30 consecutive matches. The streak carried into the 2017 campaign and now stands at 32 straight wins. Seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes have won 75 straight matches dating back to April 2, 2015. During that streak, the two Trojans have lost just six sets (only one in 2016). The dynamic duo won 25 straight matches to close the 2015 season as AVCA National Pairs Champions and finished with a final mark of 44-3. They then went undefeated in 2016 with a 48-0 record.