USC beach volleyball will be represented by four duos at the inaugural USAV Beach Collegiate Pairs Championship at the Hermosa Beach Pier in Hermosa Beach, Calif., this weekend (May 11-13). Fresh off a third-consecutive team national championship, the Trojans’ pairs will compete for the first collegiate individual title in the sport since the AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) crowned pairs’ champions from 2012-15.
The championship—hosted by USA Volleyball—is a double-gender tournament that will consist of 24 women’s pairs and 11 men’s pairs. The champion from each will earn a spot on a USA Volleyball collegiate beach national team. NBCSN will air the women’s final live on Saturday, May 13, at 3 p.m. PT, with the men’s final to follow on taped delay.
Six pools of women’s pairs will compete in a round-robin schedule to open the tournament on Thursday (May 11). A 16-team single elimination bracket will be formed and play down to a champion beginning on Friday, May 12, with the quarters, semis, and championship match set for Saturday, May 13.
Seniors Kelly Claes (Fullerton, Calif.) and Sara Hughes (Costa Mesa, Calif.) won the last pairs national championship as the 2015 AVCA champion and were the last of three USC combos to win the AVCA title. Hughes and Kirby Burnham won the championship in 2014 while Burnham and Stevi Robinson claimed the 2013 crown. The only other AVCA title was won by Pepperdine’s duo of Caitlin Racich and Summer Ross in 2012.
Claes and Hughes are 48-1 this season with a 140-4 all-time record in collegiate matches over the course of three seasons together. The top USC duo has also won several matches at AVP, FIVB, and NORCECA events throughout the last three years.
The Trojans will also send its pair of senior Nicolette Martin (Anaheim, Calif.) and junior Terese Cannon (Pittsford, N.Y.), which has gone 36-8 in matches in 2017. A third USC pair is comprised of sophomore Abril Bustamante (Redondo Beach, Calif.) and freshman Joy Dennis (Cyrpess, Calif.). Due to injuries and illnesses, the duo only matched up 25 times this spring but was able to go 19-6 in those contests. The fourth Trojan duo is made up of juniors Jenna Belton (Aptos, Calif.) and Jo Kremer (Pacific Palisades, Calif.). The tandem played primarily at the No. 5 position in USC’s duals and compiled a 35-6 overall record this spring.
USC is one of 15 schools represented among the 24 selected women’s pairs. With four pairs, the Trojans boast the largest grouping. From the Pac-12, UCLA will send two pairs while Arizona and Washington will send one each. Non-Pac-12 schools represented include Cal Poly, Florida Atlantic, Florida State, Georgia State, Loyola Marymount, Long Beach State, Louisiana State, Pepperdine, Saint Mary’s College, South Carolina, and TCU. On the men’s side, the Trojans are also represented by Lucas Yoder who will team with Michael Saeta from UC Irvine among a field of 11 pairs.
For more information on the championships, a complete list of entrants, schedule, and results, please visit TeamUSA.org. For more information on the three-time national champion USC beach volleyball team, news, schedules, and results, please visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCBeach on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Instagram, and Snapchat.
News courtesy of USC Athletics.