Claes and Hughes Win Gold at NORCECA North Bay Stop

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    July 4, 2016

    LOS ANGELES -- USC beach volleyball seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes claimed gold at the NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation) Continental Tour North Bay stop on Sunday, July 3. The Women of Troy went 4-1 in the tournament and upended Canada's top-seeded tandem of Julie Gordon and Brandie Wilkerson, 21-16, 21-13, in the title match.

    Claes-Hughes split matches in pool play with a 21-8, 21-9 win over Ayana Dyette and Taija Thomas of Trinidad and Tobago; and a 21-13, 21-13 loss to Gordon and Wilkerson. The Trojan duo had a bye in their third match and carried their seventh seed into the quarterfinals for a matchup against Canada's third-seeded team of Rachel Cockrell and Camille Saxton. Claes and Hughes posted the upset with a quick 21-14, 21-10 win to advance to the semifinals.

    In the semis, Claes and Hughes were pushed to three sets by fellow American tandem Ali McColloch and Kelly Reeves, but prevailed, 19-21, 21-14, 20-18, to move into the title match. McColloch and Reeves finished in third with a victory over Canada's fifth-seeded team of Christine Lapointe and Megan Nagy.

    Up next, Claes and Hughes will head to Parnü, Estonia, for the World University Championships, July 13-17. The Trojan duo earned their berth into the 2016 WUC Beach Championship by claiming first place at the USA Trials on June 5. They received berths into three NORCECA tour events by winning the qualifier in Hermosa Beach (May 28). On the pro circuit, Claes and Hughes took third place at the AVP's New York City (June 19) stop and then made their first-ever appearance in an AVP final to take second place at the AVP San Francisco event (June 26).

    This spring, the top-ranked USC beach volleyball team finished with a 34-2 overall record and secured the inaugural Pac-12 championship and the sport's first-ever NCAA crown. The Women of Troy completed a 30-match winning streak and defeated Florida State, 3-0, in the first NCAA title match to cement themselves as the first-ever back-to-back collegiate beach volleyball national champions. Head coach Anna Collier became the first coach to reach the 100-win mark and is 108-17 in five seasons at Troy for an .864 winning percentage. Claes and Hughes were each named AVCA All-Americans and won the first Pac-12 Pairs championship.

    For more information on the two-time national champion USC beach volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit and follow @USCBeach on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Instagram, and Snapchat.