No. 1 Trojans Enter Pac-12 Tournament as Top Seed|
Follow, Like, Instagram, Periscope, and Snap with @USCBeach
April 26, 2017
MATCH #31 Thursday-Saturday, April 27-29
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 1-ranked USC beach volleyball team (30-0) defends its Pac-12 title as the top seed in this weekend's tournament at Arizona's Beach Volleyball Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The Women of Troy will put a 60-match winning streak on the line when they face either eighth-seeded Utah (1-10) or ninth-seeded Oregon (2-7) in the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. PT on Thursday (April 27).
Should the Trojans advance, a meeting with the winner of a dual between Arizona State (15-14) and Stanford (12-8) is on tap in the winner's bracket semifinals at 6 p.m. later that evening. The winner's bracket will be decided at 9 a.m. on Friday (April 28) and the championship dual is set for 1 p.m. Following the team championship, an 18-team pairs championship will begin on Friday and continue through Saturday when a champion will be crowned at the 1 p.m. title match. Seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes are the defending Pac-12 Pairs Champions.
USC has won 92 of its last 94 dual matches. Claes-Hughes is the first and only pair in program history to reach 100 wins together (127-4 overall).
DEFENDING CHAMPS: The Women of Troy are the defending Pac-12 champions. USC and Merle Norman Stadium hosted the inaugural conference tournament in the spring of 2016. The Trojans earned 5-0 sweeps over Oregon and California to advance to the winner's bracket final where they claimed a 3-2 win over UCLA. In the title match, USC buckled down to get a 3-0 win over Arizona and claimed the first-ever conference title. Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes earned four straight-set wins including a 22-20, 22-20 decision over Madison and McKenna Witt of Arizona to win the inaugural Pac-12 Pairs crown. Sophie Bukovec and Alexa Strange advanced to the pairs' quarterfinals before being eliminated.
Entering the championships this season, Claes and Hughes are 35-1 overall. All four of USC's other pairs are newly formed this season, but 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 30-4 overall with a 26-2 mark in duals. In the middle of the lineup, junior Terese Cannon and senior Nicolette Martin have put together a 28-win season and have picked up 25 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 earned 17 and 16 victories respectively.
LAST TIME OUT: The Women of Troy closed the regular season undefeated (30-0) with four wins on home sand. The Trojans swept Cal Poly and CSU Bakersfield and earned 4-1 wins over No. 5 Long Beach State and No. 2-ranked crosstown rival UCLA. The 4-0 week pushed USC's incredible winning streak to 60 consecutive wins and extended the team's winning streak at Merle Norman Stadium to 16 straight. Following their 5-0 performance, seniors Sophie Bukovec and Allie Wheeler earned USC's fifth Pac-12 Pair of the Week honor.
1-2 PUNCH: When No. 1 USC and No. 2 UCLA met on Saturday (April 22), the Trojans played in their ninth 1v2 matchup. The Trojans are 6-3 all-time in No. 1 vs. No. 2 duals. They were in four such matches in 2016 and went 3-1. They didn't play any in 2015 but played three 1-vs-2 duals in 2014 and went 1-2 in those. Overall, in these duals, USC is 4-2 when ranked No. 1 and 2-1 when ranked No. 2.
SCOUTING REPORT: The Trojans are 28-0 all-time against teams from the Pac-12. USC went 9-0 against conference foes this season with two wins against UCLA and Arizona State; and one each over Arizona, California, Stanford, Utah, and Washington. The only league opponent the Trojans didn't meet in 2017 was Oregon. The duals against Stanford, Utah, and Washington marked the first-ever meetings between the Trojans and those beach squads. USC's first Pac-12 Championship foe will either be Utah or Oregon. The Trojans are 1-0 against the Utes and 2-0 against the Ducks historically.
POW-WOW: USC pairs have won the Pac-12's Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week honor five times (out of eight 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. USC's pair of Terese Cannon and Nicolette Martin earned the distinction on March 28, and seniors Sophie Bukovec and Allie Wheeler were selected as the last pair of the season on April 25. In all, USC has had its pair claim the weekly award 11 times since its inception 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 60 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.
SENIOR CITIZENS: The Trojans' seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes are the winningest pair in program history. The duo has won 127 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.
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 138-17 (.890) all-time. The next closest coach is Pepperdine's Nina Matthies who reached 100 this season and is 109-16 (.872) overall.