Claes and Hughes Take Gold at World University Championships

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    July 17, 2016

    PARNÜ, Estonia -- USC beach volleyball seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes captured gold medals at the FISU World University Championships on Sunday, July 17. The Women of Troy defeated twin sisters Madison and McKenna Witt of Arizona in an all-USA final, 21-16, 21-13. Overall, Claes and Hughes went 7-0 in the world tourney and didn't drop a single set in their run. The Witt sisters were a familiar foe for the Trojan tandem. They are 5-0 against the Witts in NCAA collegiate competition over the last two seasons.

    Claes and Hughes were seeded No. 2 and emerged from pool play with three decisive victories. The longest of the duo's matches lasted just 34 minutes. The Trojan pair started the week with a 21-15, 21-17 win over Julie and Nicole Dietrich of Switzerland. They then defeated Alise Pastare and Ruta Treija of Latvia, 21-11, 21-9, and closed out pool competition with a 21-18, 21-10 win over Germany's team of Sandra Ittlinger and Yanina Weiland.

    With a first-round bye in hand, Claes and Hughes took fresh legs into the round of 16 and defeated the 17th-seeded duo of Lézana Placette and Alexia Richard of France, 21-11, 21-9, in just 22 minutes. They matched up against No. 13-seed Anja Dörfler and Julia Radl of Austria in the quarterfinals and picked up a 21-10, 21-12 victory. The final roadblock to the title match put up little resistance as Claes-Hughes dispatched of Sweden's 14th-seeded team of Kristina and Susanna Thurin, 21-17, 21-10.

    Put on by Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire (International University Sports Federation), the competition spanned five days, July 13-17, and included 32 women's pairs and 32 men's pairs. Also representing Team USA, Chris Orenic and Lucas Yoder of the USC men's volleyball team finished 23rd overall in the men's competition. Fifth-year USC head coach Anna Collier served as the head coach for Team USA at the World Games.

    Up next, Claes and Hughes head to Klagenfurt, Austria, for the third and final stop of the 2016 Swatch FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball) World Tour. They will compete against some of the best players in the world during the five-day tourney, July 26-31. Claes and Hughes also won gold at the NORCECA North Bay tour stop. The duo received berths into three NORCECA tour events by winning the qualifier in Hermosa Beach (May 28). On the American pro circuit, the pair took third 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 went undefeated with a 48-0 record and dropped just one set all season. They were each named AVCA All-Americans and won the first-ever 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.