USC Wins Ljubljana Intercontinental Beach Clash

    The Women of Troy in Ljubljana

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    May 22, 2015

    LJUBLJANA, Slovenia - The national champion USC sand volleyball team won the Ljubljana Intercontinental Beach Clash, beating Europe, 25-23, in the three-day (May 20-22) pairs tournament at Sportni Park Ludus Crnuce in the Slovenian capital.

    The tourney pitted eightTrojan teams against eightEuropean teams from Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, and Italy. A point was awarded for each pairs victory.

    The competition came down to the final match of the 48-match tourney, as USC seniors Eve Ettinger and Meg Norton defeated a team from Slovakia, 2-1.

    Overall, Ettinger and Norton (playing in the No. 3 position) went 6-0 in the tournament, as did USC's No. 1 duo of sophomores Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes, the AVCA national champion pairs team.

    Sophomore Sophie Bukovec and junior Alexa Strange, USC's No. 2 team, went 4-2 overall despite Bukovec playing the entire tourney with an injured left hand and having to block one-handed. The No. 4 duo of sophomores Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler were 3-1 through the tourney's first two days, but Wheeler sprained an ankle and sat out the third day and the pair had to forfeit their final two matches (Martin played exhibition matches that day, winning with Bukovec and falling with freshmanJenna Belton).

    Belton and fellow froshJo Kremer, in the No. 5 slot, were 2-4, while the No. 6 team of sophomore Paige Hines and senior Alexa Stonish went 3-3, including a key 2-0 win over Croatia late in the final round. The No. 8 duo of freshman Marielle Bagnard and senior Emily Young was 1-5 and the No. 7 tandem of freshmen Olivia Asprey and Lorna Brandt did not win any of their six matches.

    "This was a good victory against outstanding European teams," said fourth-year USC head coach Anna Collier. "I was really proud of our team, facing tough teams who play a different style of volleyball than we're used to and doing so in sometimes difficult elements that included heat, rain, and cold."

    "This trip, from start to finish, has been invaluable for team bonding. The value has come not only in the playing, but by experiencing different cultures, food, and sights while still maintaining a level of excellence on the court."

    The tournament was part of a 13-day European tour by the USC sand volleyball team. It began in Italy, with matches in the Bibione Beach Volleyball Marathon that included 256 women's pairs team. Claes/Hughes won the pairs gold medal at the Bibione tourney, while Ettinger/Norton captured bronze. The Women of Troyalso made sightseeing stops in Venice and Verona and is now headed to Austria (Klagenfurt and Vienna) before returning home on May 25.

    USC went 28-0 en route to winning the 2015AVCA sand volleyball team national championship. With this victory in Ljubljana, USC is undefeated in the USA and Europe in 2015.