Jennifer Kessy Wins AVP NYC, Hughes and Claes Earn Semifinal Bid|
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July 20, 2015
NEW YORK -- Olympic silver medalist and former USC volleyball All-American Jennifer Kessy won her 15th-career AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) title as she teamed with Emily Day to claim the 2015 AVP Kingston New York City Open on Sunday, July 19. Held at Hudson River Park's Pier 26, it was the AVP's first-ever tournament held in Manhattan in the tour's 33-year history.
Kessy wasn't the only Trojan making waves on the East Coast. Kessy-Day had to go through current Women of Troy juniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes to advance to the final. Claes and Hughes, the defending AVCA National Champions, served notice to the professional beach volleyball world as they carried their 16th seed to a semifinal finish. Claes-Hughes went 6-2 with a pair of wins in the qualifying bracket, and four more in the contender's bracket.
Claes and Hughes suffered the first of their two losses to the tournament's top seeded duo of April Ross and Jennifer Fopma. Ross, a three-time USC All-American and Olympic silver medalist, was playing with a new partner because her regular partner Kerri Walsh-Jennings was out due to injury. The loss by Claes-Hughes dropped the Trojan pair out of the winner's bracket and into the contender's bracket. There, they won four matches over the sixth, ninth, and 12th-seeded teams before they earned a rematch with Ross-Fopma. The second meeting yielded an incredible 21-19, 21-15 win for Claes and Hughes to send the tandem into the semifinals.
Claes and Hughes began their run through the qualifier's bracket as they took out Jennifer Dalhausser and Tori Grafeman, 21-11, 21-7, in the first round; and Lynne Galli and Lisa Rutledge in the second round, 21-15, 21-13. The Trojan tandem fell by the same score to Fopma and Ross in the first round of the winner's bracket, but bounced back to beat Tealle Hunkus and Sheila Shaw, 21-18, 21-13, in the first round of the contender's bracket. They needed three sets, but put aside Ali McColloch and Emily Stockman, 21-16, 18-21, 15-5, in the second round. They then knocked off Kerri Schuh and Jessica Stubinski, 23-21, 21-16, in round three before the upset of Fopma and Ross. Claes and Hughes were just inches from an appearance in the final as they fell to Kessy and Day in three sets, 30-28, 18-21, 15-10.
Kessy and Day earned three straight-set victories in the winner's bracket to get to the semifinals. They beat Kristine Monforte and Summer Nash, 21-13, 21-14, in the first round, Irene Hester Pollock and Caitlin Ledoux in the second round, 21-14, 21-15, and then earned a 21-13, 21-17 win over Kim DiCello and Kendra Van Swieten in round three. Following their three-set win over Claes-Hughes, Kessy and Day needed three sets once more to take out Nicole Branagh and Jenny Kropp, 24-22, 19-21, 23-21, for the championship.
Fopma and Ross defeated Claes and Hughes in the first round of the winner's bracket, and then upended another Trojan as they won, 21-15, 21-15, to get past Geena Urango and her partner Angela Bensend in round two. Fopma and Ross were sent to the contender's bracket following a 21-16, 21-19 loss to Branagh and Kropp. Urango and Bensend beat Hunkus and Shaw, 23-21, 21-18, in their opening match, and then defeated Dana Fiume and Amanda Wiggins, 21-16, 21-14, in the contender's bracket. They also got a 21-15, 21-15 win over Amanda Dowdy and Heather McGuire, and were one step from a return to the semifinals, but fell, 21-16, 21-12, to DiCello and Van Swieten.
The New York City Open is the AVP's second tournament of the 2015 season and the summer's only stop in the Northeast. The 2015 Tour season kicked off in New Orleans in May. Next, the Tour heads to Seattle; Manhattan Beach, Calif.; Chicago; Cincinnati; and Huntington Beach, Calif. The AVP also hosted and operated an Olympic qualifying tournament on the FIVB Tour in St. Petersburg, Fla. in June.
The No. 1-ranked USC beach volleyball team went undefeated (28-0) to claim the program's first team championship and the 123rd overall team national title in the school's history. Claes and Hughes completed the collegiate season with a 44-3 record and won the AVCA Pairs Championship to mark the third straight year that a Trojan pair won the national crown.
For more information on the AVP and a complete schedule of events, please visit AVP.com. For information on the USC beach volleyball team, please visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCBeachVBall on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
2015 AVP NEW YORK CITY OPEN -- RESULTS