No. 1 USC Set for USAV Collegiate Challenge in Hermosa
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April 9, 2014
2014 USAV Beach Collegiate Challenge
Pairs Bracket Championship
LOS ANGELES - The top-ranked USC women's sand volleyball team (14-1) carries a program-best 13-match winning streak into a weekend at the Hermosa Beach House for the 2014 USAV Beach Collegiate Challenge, April 12-13. The Women of Troy will face Santa Clara (10 a.m.), No. 6-ranked UCLA (12 p.m.), and Loyola Marymount (2 p.m.) for a trio of duals out of Pool A on Saturday, April 12. The Trojans will then be seeded into three different brackets (gold, silver, and bronze) for a pair's championship on Sunday, April 13, beginning at 9 a.m. PT.
USC has completed the 5-0 sweep in 10 duals this season, including the last six straight. In fact, no Trojan pair has dropped so much as a set since a 4-1 win over Pepperdine on March 25. The Women of Troy are led by their top pair of senior Kirby Burnham and freshman Sara Hughes, which holds a 21-3 mark together. The Burnham-Hughes combination has reeled of 13 straight victories.
Freshman Kelly Claes and sophomore Alexa Strange have won five straight matches and now boast a 17-4 mark together. Seniors Sam Hirschmann and Natasa Siljkovic are on a six-match streak (14-6 overall) while juniors Eve Ettinger and Bria Russ are 15-4 also on a six-match streak. USC's freshman tandem of Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler is 11-3 at court five. Paige Hines and Martin teamed last week to produce a 4-0 mark in duals.
TRACK THE TROJANS: Fans of the Women of Troy can follow @USCSandVBall on Twitter for score updates during home matches and select road matches. The Trojans are also active on Instagram (USCSandVBall) and on Facebook (USCSandVBall).
LAST TIME OUT: USC pushed its program-best winning streak to 13 duals with 5-0 victories over Cal State Northridge, Oregon, Loyola Marymount, and sixth-ranked UCLA. The Trojans closed their home schedule with an 8-0 mark at Merle Norman Stadium and earned their sixth straight 5-0 sweep on the road in Bakersfield. USC's top pair of Kirby Burnham and Sara Hughes became the first Trojan pair to cross the 20-win plateau as they extended their win streak to 13 consecutive matches.
USC AT THE USAV BEACH COLLEGIATE CHALLENGE: Last year, the Trojans fell to Long Beach State, 4-1, in their first match at the challenge, but defeated Bakersfield, 4-1, and LMU, 5-0, to capture third place in team tournament. Kirby Burnham and Stevi Robinson finished as runners up to Kim Hill and Lilla Frederick of Pepperdine in the gold division. Sam Hirschmann and Natasa Siljkovic were runners up to Pepperdine's Emily Cook and Katie Messing in the bronze division. In 2012, USC went 2-2 with wins over Hawaii and LMU but dropped a pair of 3-2 decisions to Pepperdine and Long Beach State.
OPPONENT SERIES RECORDS: USC will meet second-year program Santa Clara for the first time on the sand. The Trojans and LMU have met on the sand eight times. The Trojans are 8-0 in matches against the Lions and have claimed a pair of 5-0 victories this season. USC and rival UCLA have played each other twice: once in each of the last two seasons. The Women of Troy defeated UCLA, 5-0, in each of the meetings.
WATCH LIVE: Each of USC's home matches this season were webcast on the USCTrojans.com Pac-12 Networks portal page with former Northeastern player and Winthrop assistant coach Paul Duchesne calling the action. The Pac-12 Networks carried duals on March 27 and April 3 to a live national audience with Anne Marie Anderson and Holly McPeak on the call. The Trojans appeared in the first-ever live broadcast of a women's collegiate dual match on Thursday, March 27, when USC faced Cal State Northridge.
ALL-AMERICAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONS: Senior Kirby Burnham teamed with Stevi Robinson to produce a 25-4 record as a pair in 2013. The tandem won their last eight consecutive matches including four at the AVCA pairs championships on May 5, 2013, to claim USC's first-ever individual championship in sand volleyball. They were each later named the first-ever sand volleyball All-Americans in USC history.
A HEART FOR ART: Junior Alexa Stonish is a fine arts major at USC's famed Roski School of Art and Design. She emphasizes and is an enthusiast in photography. Some of Stonish's work has been featured in the Artletics on-campus exhibit that displays the works of USC student-athletes.
IN HER BLOOD: Freshman Sevana Dvorak comes from some esteemed volleyball bloodlines. Her father, Rudy Dvorak, was an All-American setter at USC in 1986 and led the Trojans to the 1985 and 1986 NCAA Final Four as an all-tournament selection each year. He went on later to have a successful pro beach career. Sevena's uncle Dusty Dvorak was a two-time All-American setter at USC (1979-80) who led Troy to the 1977 and 1980 NCAA titles before he guided the U.S. to a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. He is regarded as America's greatest men's volleyball setter and is a member of the USAV and USC Athletics Hall of Fames. Her aunt Deidra Dvorak played at Stanford and in Europe, while another uncle Drake Dvorak played at San Diego State.
CHILDREN OF THE CORN: USC's sophomore class of Alexa Strange and Lauren Sieckmann were each Nebraska Cornhuskers previously. Strange is a Southern California native (San Clemente, Calif.) and joins the Women of Troy following a successful spring at Nebraska where she was part of the No. 1 pair with Kelsey Robinson. Strange has extensive international sand experience and was also a member of the Cornhuskers' indoor volleyball team. Sieckmann, who is from Omaha, Neb., committed to the Cornhuskers as one of the top players in the nation and left high school early to participate in spring drills with the team in 2012. By the spring of 2013, she had played a fall of indoor volleyball at NCAA DII Wayne State College, and was playing sand volleyball exclusively at Pepperdine. Sieckmann enrolled at USC in the fall of 2013 and must sit out the 2013-14 season per NCAA transfer rules.
CONVERSION FACTORS: The Women of Troy have benefitted from the conversion of several former indoor volleyball stars. Natasa Siljkovic completed her indoor career as a middle blocker in the fall of 2012 and stepped foot onto a sand court for the first time in 2013. She played at courts three, four, and five and produced 15 wins for the Trojans. As a graduate student, Siljkovic is expected to contribute mightily from court three this season. Junior Bria Russ was a mainstay at USC's top two courts in 2013, her first season on the sand after she appeared in 26 matches for the USC indoor team as a freshman. All-American Kirby Burnham, Sam Hirschmann, and Eve Ettinger are each also former member's of USC's indoor squad. Graduate Mary Buckingham lettered for California's indoor team in 2009.
PROM DATE: Freshman Kelly Claes should be shopping for prom dresses. Instead, she will play a key role in the Trojans' 2014 season. Claes completed high school graduation requirements a semester early and left El Dorado HS to join the Women of Troy. She was named to the Volleyball Magazine Girls Fab 50 and is the only player on the list that will play sand volleyball exclusively at the collegiate level. With her arrival, the Trojans signed the top sand volleyball recruit in consecutive years. USC signed top sand recruit Sara Hughes in 2013.
STAFF INFECTION: With the addition three-time Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Misty May-Treanor, the Trojans boast one of the most broadly experienced coaching staffs in the nation. May-Treanor formerly was an assistant coach at her alma mater Long Beach State before she joined one of her mentors Anna Collier on the Trojan staff. Fuller is a former Virginia Tech player who also coaches a pro beach pair. Each assistant brings great depth to the Trojans' ability to run drills and develop skills in addition to some valuable experience on the international level.
USC ALUMS ON THE BEACH: USC women's volleyball players have shined on the pro beach world circuit, both internationally and domestically. Some of the top Women of Troy stars have included 2012 London Olympic silver medalists April Ross and Jennifer Kessy (winners of 24 tournaments, including the 2009 FIVB World Championship); Tracy Lindquist (12-year pro); Geena Urango, Jessica Gysin, and Keao Burdine (young beach stars); Bibiana Candelas (indoor All-American who won the first-ever Collegiate Nationals Beach Championship in 2006); Paula Weishoff (an indoor Olympian and Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee); and Miki McFadden (indoor Olympian). The USC men also have a strong tradition including such pro tourney winners as Tim Hovland, Adam Johnson, Pat Powers, Steve Timmons, Steve Obradovich, and Ron Lang.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Trojans will host the first-ever Pac-12 Invitational at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica, Calif., April 19-20. Arizona, Arizona State, Bakersfield, Cal Poly, and Loyola Marymount will take part in a six-team tournament (Saturday) before the Wildcats, Sun Devils, Road Runners, and Trojans play down a 20-pair single-elimination tournament on Sunday.