USC's Sara Hughes, Kelly Claes Win Bronze At FIVB U21 Beach Volleyball World Championships

    Kelly Claes (left) and Sara Hughes display their bronze medals fromthe FIVB U21 World Championships.

    July 28, 2014

    USC sophomore women's sand volleyball players Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes captured the bronze medal at the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships in Cyprus on Sunday (July 27).

    The Trojan duo defeated Switzerland's Nina Betschart and Nicole Eiholzer, 21-16, 21-23, 15-7, to claim the bronze.

    It was the second FIVB bronze medal that Hughes and Claes have won. Last year, they were third at the FIVB U19 World Championships in Portugal.

    Trojan junior Alexa Strange advanced to the Round of 16 in Cyprus with partner Delaney Knudsen of Pepperdine before falling. They went 4-1 in pool play to move into knockout play.

    Hughes/Claes, ranked 12th in the tournament, breezed through pool play, winning all 5 of their matches with 2-0 sweeps. They then swept their Round of 16 and quarterfinal matches over teams from Italy and Russia, respectively, before losing in 3 sets in the semifinals to Lithuania's Ieva Dumbauskaite and Monika Povilaityte, the tourney's fifth-ranked duo.

    Last month, Hughes teamed with Pepperdine's Kellie Woolever at the FIVB Beach Volleyball U23 World Championships in Poland. The pair, ranked 23rd in the competition, advanced to the quarterfinals before falling in 3 sets to the eventual silver medalists from Australia (the tourney's No. 2-ranked squad).

    As a freshman this past spring, Hughes teamed with Kirby Burnham to win the 2014 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Pairs championship.