Written by Sarah Bergstrom and Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributors
USC's sand volleyball team is already making waves on its way to its second appearance in as many years at the 2014 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The Women of Troy are the top-ranked team in the nation and are entering the tournament as the number one seed with a 21-match winning streak, the longest in program history, on the line.
It may only be the program's third year in existence, but the Trojans are looking to capitalize on their wealth of talent and win their first team title. In order to do so, they will rely on reigning pairs champion, senior Kirby Burnham, who won the first title for the program with now graduated All-American Stevi Robinson in last year's tournament. Back in 2014 with a new and younger partner in freshman Sara Hughes, Burnham will not only look to repeat, but also lead the Trojans to a team victory as this dynamic duo has won their last 28 consecutive matches.
The Trojans boast a 22-1 overall record on the season and 17 of those wins have been by 5-0 sweeps. Both the pairs of Hughes and Burnham as well as Alexa Strange and Kelly Claes have over 30 wins on the year and will carry the Women of Troy throughout the tournament.
The team tournament is a double-elimination format with a sudden death final four. USC earned a first-round bye and awaits the winner of No. 4 Hawaii vs. No. 5 FIU to determine its opponent in the quarterfinal which will be on Friday at 12:00 p.m. CT.
The team championship match is set for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 3. The pairs' tournament will be played on Sunday, May 4 in which Kirby Burnham and Sara Hughes will look to defend Burnham's title.
Be sure to follow @USCSandVBall on Twitter for score updates throughout the weekend. The team semifinal and championship matches will be taped for broadcast on CBS Sports Network.