No. 1 USC Hosts Huskies and Devils For Friday Duals|
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April 4, 2017
MATCH #22 Friday, April 7 - 6 p.m. PT
MATCH #23-25 Saturday, April 8
LOS ANGELES -- The top-ranked USC beach volleyball team (20-0) plays six of its last 10 regular-season duals on home sand at Merle Norman Stadium and begins that run with duals against Washington (1-0) and No. 15 Arizona State (9-11) on Friday, April 7. The Trojans and the Huskies will meet for the first time when the two teams clash at 4 p.m. PT. USC and the Sun Devils will serve it up at 6 p.m., immediately following the first dual. The Women of Troy have beaten ASU in all four of the teams' previous meetings. On Saturday, April 8, USC returns to Manhattan Beach for the USAV Beach Collegiate Challenge where it will face Loyola Marymount (9 a.m.), ASU for a second time (11:45 a.m.), and Saint Mary's College (3:30 p.m.). The Trojans bring an unprecedented 50-match winning streak into the weekend.
USC has won 82 of its last 84 dual matches and is led by its senior pair of Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes. The dynamic duo is the first and only USC pair to reach 100 wins together (118-3 overall) and is on an incredible 99-match winning streak that dates back to April 2, 2015.
Despite the fact that all four of the Trojans' other pairs are newly formed, each one has already reached at least 10 wins this season. Behind Claes and Hughes, juniors Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer are 22-3 overall with an 18-1 mark at in duals. In the middle of the lineup, junior Terese Cannon and senior Nicolette Martin have put together a 19-win season so far and picked up 16 of those in duals. Seniors Sophie Bukovec and Allie Wheeler, at the No. 2 spot, and the pair of sophomore Abril Bustamante and freshman Joy Dennis at No. 4 have each earned 12 overall victories this season.
LAST TIME OUT: The Women of Troy pushed their winning streak to 50 consecutive duals on the strength of four more 5-0 wins over California, San Francisco, Saint Mary's College, and San Jose State. Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes were named the Pac-12 Pair of the Week after they posted an 8-0 week with straight-set victories in all matches. The duo also claimed the gold bracket title in pairs' tournaments with Cal and SMC.
SCOUTING REPORT: Washington (1-0) has played only one match this season, but defeated Portland, 5-0, in Vancouver, Wash., in its season opener. The Trojans and the Huskies will meet for the first time. No. 15 Arizona State (9-11) is coming off a 5-0 loss to Florida State and has lost six of its last eight duals. The Sun Devils went 2-4 in the FIU Surf and Turf Invitational last weekend. Saint Mary's College (14-4) has won eight of its last 10 duals. The only two losses were each 5-0 decisions to UCLA and USC. The Trojans are 3-0 in all-time meetings with the Gaels. Loyola Marymount (7-8) went 3-2 in its last five matches with losses to USC at Merle Norman Stadium and to Cal at a tourney in Northridge. The Lions are the Trojans' longest-standing rival with 16 previous meetings between the two schools. USC owns a 16-0 mark against LMU.
POW-WOW: USC pairs have won the Pac-12's Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week honor four times (out of five weeks) this season. Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes claimed the first honor of the season on March 7 and won their fifth all-time award on April 4. Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer became the first-ever No. 5 pair to take home the weekly award on March 21, and USC's pair of Terese Cannon and Nicolette Martin earned the distinction on March 28. In all, USC has had its pair claim the weekly award 10 times since its inception in 2016.
HOME, SWEET, HOME: The Women of Troy are 36-4 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 a 10-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 and only collegiate beach volleyball coach to reach the 100 career victories mark. She is currently 128-17 (.883) all-time. The next closest coach is Pepperdine's Nina Matthies who is 98-14 (.875).
SENIOR CITIZENS: The Trojans' seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes are the winningest pair in program history. The duo has won 118 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 50 straight wins. Seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes have won 99 straight matches dating back to April 2, 2015. During that streak, the two Trojans have lost just seven sets (only one in 2016 and one in 2017). 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.
HAT TRICK: The Women of Troy have won each of the last three AVCA pairs' national championships. Kirby Burnham and Stevi Robinson claimed the title in 2013. Burnham then won again with Sara Hughes in 2014. Following Burnham's graduation, Hughes teamed with Kelly Claes to win the 2015 crown. With the NCAA's sponsorship of beach volleyball as its 90th championship sport, the organization decided to hold a team championship and not a pairs' tournament. This spring, the USAV will sponsor a Collegiate Beach Pairs National Championship at Manhattan Beach the weekend of May 11-13 where Claes and Hughes will have a chance to defend their 2015 title.
POLL POSITION: USC opened the season ranked No. 1 in both the AVCA Coaches Top 15 and the DiG Magazine Top 20 media poll. The Women of Troy seized the top spot in both polls on March 23, 2015, following a victory over then No. 1-ranked Hawai'i on the road and held the ranking for the rest of 2015. USC has been ranked No. 1 in 13 AVCA polls, which ties for the most all-time with Pepperdine. The Trojans, the Waves, and the Wahine are the only three teams ever to hold the top spot in the poll. USC is 73-3 all-time when ranked No. 1. The Trojans received their first-ever No. 1 ranking in 2014 and maintained the position for much of the season, before the they fell to eventual AVCA champion Pepperdine in the national semifinals. In 2013, USC started the season ranked third and finished in fourth.
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