After the graduation of its superstar women’s pair Sarah Hughes and Kelly Claes, 2018 shaped up to be a rebuilding year for the USC Trojans’ beach volleyball team. While the team has continued to hang on to their #1 ranking in the AVCA coaches’ poll, USC lost 3 consecutive matches, including back-to-backs against Pepperdine, to put that status in jeopardy. Those 3 losses already this season are more than USC had in the previous 3 seasons combined.
A contender to supplant them are those very same Pepperdine Waves, who sit 5-2 after one of the biggest days in program history. The morning began with the aforementioned 3-2 win over USC – matching the same score as their Wednesday win.
The Trojans, still trying to settle their lineup after huge graduations, shifted Tina Graudina up to the #1 line on Saturday to play with Abril Bustamante. moved Terese Cannon to the #2 line to play with Sammy Slater, and dropped Joy Dennis and Brianna Sizemore to the #3 line. The result netted some positive outcomes – after losing at the 1, 2, and 4 lines on Wednesday, USC’s new #1 pair beat Pepperdines Brook Bauer and Madalyn Roh on Saturday 2-1.
But, this time Pepperdine won the 2-3-4 lines, which should’ve theoretically gotten stronger with USC’s changes, to take the match. USC picked up am easy win at the 5-line, and won the 1-line after the match had already been decided.
USC would go on to beat #3 UCLA 3-2 in the afternoon, but Pepperdine was even better – taking a 4-1 win over the Bruins. While any wins against the defending champions USC is a big one, the win against UCLA carried the weight of avenging a 3-2 loss earlier in the week.
The big change came when Pepperdine switched their #1 and #2 lines after Wednesday’s loss. They jumped Brook Bauer and Madalyn Roh to #1, dropped Deahna Kraft and Corinne Quiggle to #2, and turned two losses into two wins – including a 1-line victory over the elite McNamara twins of UCLA.
After handing UCLA their 3rd loss of the season (with the UCLA loss to USC being the 2nd), the only two teams with at-least an equal claim to #1 when the new polls come out are Hawaii, who are 3-1, with 2 wins over Stanford, 1 win over UCLA, and 1 loss to UCLA; and Florida State, who has shot out of the gate with an 8-0 start, albeit without playing any of the elite west coast competition, and with 2 of those wins coming against St. Peter’s College – a junior college program.
Wherever the rankings come out, Florida State and Pepperdine will have a chance to stake their claim next Saturday when the two square off on Manhattan Beach. The Seminoles’ first California trip of the season will significantly increase their strength-of-schedule, with 2 matches against Pepperdine and 1 each against Hawaii, USC, and UCLA.
Now that the #1 line seems to be in a rhythm (the team is still just 3-4 there this season), Pepperdine’s biggest weakness this season is at the #5 line, where they are just 2-5 so far in 2018.
#5 Pepperdine 3, #1 USC 2
- 1: Brooke Bauer/Madalyn Roh (PEPP) def. Terese Cannon/Abril Bustamante (USC) – 21-19, 21-18
- 2: Deahna Kraft/Corinne Quiggle (PEPP) def. Brianna Sizemore/Joy Dennis (USC) – 21-18, 19-21, 15-13
- 3: Haley Hallgren/Sammy Slater (USC) def. Heidi Dyer/Gigi Hernandez (PEPP) – 21-14, 16-21, 17-15
- 4: Skylar Caputo/Alexis Filippone (PEPP) def. Jo Kremer/Jenna Belton (USC) – 19-21, 25-23, 15-12
- 5: Alexandra Poletto/Maja Kaiser (USC) def. Nikki Lyons/Kaity Bailey (PEPP) – 21-19, 21-16
- Exhibition 6: Maddie Dilfer/Jordan Ferrari (PEPP) vs. Peri Green/Cammie Dorn (USC) – 21-19, 17-21, uf
Order of Finish: 5, 4, 1, 3, 2*
#5 Pepperdine 2, #3 UCLA 3
- 1: Megan McNamara/Nicole McNamara (UCLA) def. Deahna Kraft/Corinne Quiggle (PEPP) –21-18, 21-10
- 2: Lily Justine/Sarah Sponcil (UCLA) def. Brooke Bauer/Madalyn Roh (PEPP) – 21-17, 21-18
- 3: Heidi Dyer/Gigi Hernandez (PEPP) def. Madi Yeomans/Elise Zappia (UCLA) – 21-17, 18-21, 16-14
- 4: Skylar Caputo/Alexis Filippone (PEPP) def. Mac May/Savvy Simo (UCLA) – 23-21, 21-17
- 5: Izzy Carey/Megan Muret (UCLA) def. Nikki Lyons/Maddie Dilfer (PEPP) – 21-19, 21-15
- Exhibition 6: Jamie McQuarrie/Chanti Holroyd (UCLA) def. Kaity Bailey/Katie Gavin (PEPP) – 21-14, 21-11
Order of Finish: 5, 4, 1, 2*, 3
#1 USC 3, #3 UCLA 2
- 1. Abril Bustamante/Terese Cannon (USC) def. Megan McNamara/Nicole McNamara (UCLA); 21-18, 8-21, 15-6
- 2. Lily Justine/Sarah Sponcil (UCLA) def. Brianna Sizemore/Sammy Slater (USC); 23-21, 21-15
- 3. Joy Dennis/Haley Hallgren (USC) def. Madi Yeomans/Elise Zappia (UCLA); 18-21, 23-21, 15-11
- 4. Jenna Belton/Jo Kremer (USC) def. Izzy Carey/Megan Muret (UCLA); 25-23, 21-19
- 5. Zana Muno/Savvy Simo (UCLA) def. Maja Kaiser/Alexandra Poletto (USC); 21-15, 21-16
Order of finish: 5, 4, 2, 1, 3*