No. 1 USC Opens Home Slate With LMU Lions|
Follow, Like, Instagram, Periscope, and Snap with @USCBeach
March 20, 2017
LOS ANGELES -- The top-ranked and undefeated USC beach volleyball team (11-0) opens its home schedule with a dual against Loyola Marymount (6-6) on Wednesday, March 22, at noon PT on the sand at Merle Norman Stadium. The Women of Troy have won 41 consecutive matches and are coming off a 7-0 week on the Hawaiian Islands where they claimed the 2017 Outrigger Hawai'i Invitational championship. Senior Sara Hughes was honored as the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
Following the home dual, the Trojans and the Lions will face off in a pairs tournament. Then, USC heads to the East Coast for the Gamecock Grand Slam and Dan Apol Memorial in Columbia, S.C., where the Trojans will take on No. 4 Florida State, No. 9 South Carolina, No. 13 Stetson, and No. 9 Georgia State.
USC has won 73 of its last 75 dual matches and is led by its senior pair of Hughes and Kelly Claes. The dynamic duo is the first and only USC pair to reach 100 wins together (103-3 overall) and is on an incredible 84-match winning streak that dates back to April 2, 2015. All four of the Trojans' other pairs are newly formed.
LAST TIME OUT: The Women of Troy earned seven wins on the Hawaiian Islands including a 5-0 mark in the 2017 Outrigger Hawai'i Invitational to win the tournament title. USC stayed undefeated on the season and improved to 11-0. The Trojans also extended their record-winning streak to 41 consecutive matches. Seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes dropped just one set during the week, but the loss snapped a set streak of 105 consecutive wins. Despite the loss, the senior pair pushed their own match-winning streak to 84 straight wins. In the process, the duo became the first in school history to break the 100-victory plateau. Hughes was later chosen as the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. At court five, juniors Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer went undefeated and are now on a seven-match winning streak. But it was court two that delivered the clinching point in four of USC's seven matches. There, seniors Sophie Bukovec and Allie Wheeler went 6-1 on the week and are now on an active five-match winning streak.
SCOUTING REPORT: Loyola Marymount (6-6) is coming off a pair of wins: one over Cal State Northridge and the other over Cal State Bakersfield. Four of LMU's losses have come at the hands of opponents ranked in the AVCA top five. The Trojans have never lost to the Lions in 15 meetings. USC will meet No. 4 Florida State (8-4) for the third time in two weeks. The Trojans are responsible for two of the Seminoles' losses. The other two were to UCLA and Pepperdine. USC is 6-3 all-time against FSU and is on a four-match winning streak. No. 9 South Carolina (11-1) suffered its only loss to LSU, a team USC beat. The only other common opponent between the two teams is Florida International. The Gamecocks have won two straight since the loss. USC owns a 1-0 all-time mark against the other USC; the two teams met for the first time last season in Miami. No. 13 Stetson (5-8) has lost six of its eight times by 3-2 decisions and four were to opponents ranked in the AVCA top 10. USC is 4-0 all-time against the Hatters. No. 9 Georgia State (10-5) lost four straight at the East Meets West Invitational, but righted the ship with four wins and one loss at the Stetson tournament. USC has met the Panthers twice and owns a 2-0 mark all-time against GSU.
HOME, SWEET, HOME: The Women of Troy are 34-4 at Merle Norman Stadium since the venue's opening in 2013. The Trojans won 19 straight home matches between 2014 and 2016; and went 10-0 in 2015 and 8-0 in 2014 on MNS sand. USC currently owns an eight-match winning streak at the stadium. Only three teams have ever come to Merle Norman Stadium and beaten the Trojans: Florida State (twice), Long Beach State, and Pepperdine.
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS: On Saturday, April 23, 2016, USC defeated Hawai'i, 3-0, to make head coach Anna Collier the first and only collegiate beach volleyball coach to reach the 100 career victories mark. She is currently 119-17 (.875) all-time. The next closest coach is Pepperdine's Nina Matthies who is 93-14 (.869).
SENIOR CITIZENS: The Trojans' seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes are the winningest pair in program history. The duo has won 103 matches (3 losses) together over the course of a three-year relationship. Seniors Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler formed the second-most successful duo in school history from 2014-16 as they amassed 91 victories (91-14) through the end of the 2016 NCAA championship run. Claes and Hughes own the USC single-season record for wins with a 48-0 mark achieved in 2016.
LET'S GO STREAKING: USC set a new program record to close the 2016 season as winners of 30 consecutive matches. The streak carried into the 2017 campaign and now stands at 41 straight wins. Seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes have won 84 straight matches dating back to April 2, 2015. During that streak, the two Trojans have lost just six sets (only one in 2016). The dynamic duo won 25 straight matches to close the 2015 season as AVCA National Pairs Champions and finished with a final mark of 44-3. They then went undefeated in 2016 with a 48-0 record.