No. 1 USC Set For Final Week of Regular Season|
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April 17, 2017
MATCH #26 Tuesday, April 18 - 3:30 p.m. PT
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 1-ranked USC beach volleyball team (25-0) concludes its regular-season schedule with five duals this week and begins with a road match at Stanford (12-5) on Tuesday, April 18, on The Farm. The Trojans will put a 55-match winning streak on the line when the teams clash at 3:30 p.m. PT at the Stanford Beach Volleyball Stadium. USC's first-ever meeting against the Cardinal will be shown live on Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Los Angeles, and Pac-12 Bay Area.
USC has won 87 of its last 89 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 (122-4 overall) but is coming off its first loss in two years after having a record-setting 103-match winning streak snapped at the USAV Beach Collegiate Challenge in Manhattan Beach last weekend.
Despite the fact that all four of the Trojans' other pairs are newly formed this season, each one has already reached at least 10 wins with two over the 20-win mark. Behind Claes and Hughes, juniors Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer are 27-3 overall with a 23-1 mark in duals. They enter the weekend with a seven-match winning streak. In the middle of the lineup, junior Terese Cannon and senior Nicolette Martin have put together a 23-win season and have picked up 20 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 55 consecutive duals on the strength of five more wins. USC hosted and defeated Washington (4-1) in the teams' first-ever meeting, and then took down Arizona State (5-0) to extend a home winning streak to 12 straight matches at Merle Norman Stadium. In the win over the Huskies, seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes earned their 100th straight victory together. Despite fielding a heavily modified lineup due to injuries and illnesses, the Trojans put three 4-1 wins in the books over Loyola Marymount, Arizona State, and Saint Mary's College at the USAV Beach Collegiate Challenge on Manhattan Beach sand. The Trojans remained undefeated at 25-0 on the season, but Claes and Hughes had a 103-match winning streak snapped in a loss to SMC's Lindsey Knudsen and Payton Rund in the last dual of the tourney.
SCOUTING REPORT: Stanford (12-5) won its first five duals this spring, but hit a rough patch where it lost four out of six. The Cardinal regrouped and won the next five before falling to Washington in a narrow 3-2 result on April 15. All five of Stanford's starting pairs have reached double-digit wins. At the top court, Kathryn Plummer and Jenna Gray are 10-7. Former USC assistant coach Andrew Fuller is now the head coach for the Cardinal in his first season on The Farm.
POW-WOW: USC pairs have won the Pac-12's Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week honor four times (out of six 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 38-4 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 12-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 133-17 (.887) all-time. The next closest coach is Pepperdine's Nina Matthies who reached 100 this season and is 104-16 (.867) overall.
SENIOR CITIZENS: The Trojans' seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes are the winningest pair in program history. The duo has won 122 matches (4 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 and the record for longest winning streak with a 103-match run between April 2, 2015 and April 8, 2017.
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 55 straight wins. Seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes won 103 straight matches between April 2, 2015 and April 8, 2017. During that incredible streak, the two Trojans 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.