Beach Volleyball
    USC Women's Sand Volleyball Drops AVCA Semifinal Heartbreaker

    Eve Ettinger

    May 4, 2013

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    GULF SHORES, Ala. - In as tight of a dual match ending as you can have, the No. 4-ranked USC women's sand volleyball team lost a heartbreaker to No. 2 Long Beach State, 3-2, in the semifinals of the 2013 American Volleyball Coaches Association Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship on a cloudless but very windy Saturday (May 4) in Gulf Shores, Ala.

    The semi came down to the day's only 3-set match. At the No. 4 pairs spot, LBSU's veteran duo of Lauren Minkel-Jocelyn Neely outlasted USC's Kati Duddridge-Brooke Fournier, 18-21, 21-19, 15-13, on a court surrounded by several hundred spectators and CBS Sports Network cameras. Walk-ons Duddridge, a sophomore, and Fournier, a junior transfer in her first year playing on the sand, didn't become a pairs team until three weeks ago, but they extended the 49er duo, who are seniors in their second season as a pairs team. The third set was tied at 14-14 before Minkel-Neely captured the final 2 points to send their team into the national championship match.

    USC fell behind 2-0 in the semifinal as LBSU's Delainey Aigner Swesey-Chelsea Cabrajac dispatched Katie Fuller-Cinnamon Sary on the No. 2 court, 21-13, 21-15, and then Sam Hirschmann-Natasa Siljkovic fell 21-18, 21-17 to the No. 5 LBSU duo of Tyler Jackson-Janisa Johnson, who have yet to lose a match in 2013.

    But the Women of Troy valiantly battled back to tie the match at 2-2. Kirby Burnham-Stevi Robinson took down Caitlin Ledoux-Tara Roenicke on the No. 1 court, 21-17, 21-14, and then Eve Ettinger-Bria Russ swept Libby Fontanilla-Bri Mackie at No. 3, 21-16, 21-18, setting up the winner-take-all ending on the fourth court.

    USC ends its second season of women's sand volleyball with a 16-8 overall mark and a third place tie at the national championship after not qualifying as a team for the tourney in its 2012 debut campaign.

    Long Beach State (19-3) now will face undefeated No. 1 Pepperdine (20-0), the defending national champion, for the AVCA title later on Saturday in a rematch of last year's championship match. The Waves defeated No. 3 Florida State (17-4), 3-2, in the day's first semifinal match.

    The AVCA tourney concludes with a pairs championship on Sunday (May 5) starting at 8 a.m. CT, with the duos of Burnham-Robinson and Fuller-Sary competing for the Women of Troy. Burnham-Robinson are among the favorites to win the pairs crown.

    Long Beach State 3, USC 2
    1.) Kirby Burnham-Stevi Robinson (USC) def. Caitlin Ledoux-Tara Roenicke (LBSU) 21-17, 21-14
    2.) Delainey Aigner-Swesey-Chelsea Cabrajac (LBSU) def. Katie Fuller-Cinnamon Sary (USC) 21-13, 21-15
    3.) Eve Ettinger-Bria Russ (USC) def. Libby Fontanilla-Bri Mackie (LBSU) 21-16, 21-18
    4.) Lauren Minkel-Jocelyn Neely (LBSU) def. Kati Duddridge-Brooke Fournier (USC) 18-21, 21-19, 15-13
    5.) Tyler Jackson-Janisa Johnson (LBSU) def. Sam Hirschmann-Natasa Siljkovic (USC) 21-18, 21-17
    Order of finish: 2, 5, 1, 3, 4