Beach Volleyball
    Hughes/Claes Win Their Second NORCECA Qualifier of 2015

    Sara Hughes (left) and Kelly Claes

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    July 30, 2015

    HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. - USC All-Americans Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes, the defending AVCA sand volleyball national pairs champions, won their second NORCECA beach qualifier of the 2015 season, defeating top-seeded Kimberly DiCello and Kendra Van Zwieten, 21-13, 21-18, in the final in Hermosa Beach, Calif., on July 29.

    Seeded sixth in the 12-team event, Hughes and Claes posted wins over the tourney's top 3 seeded teams. They started off by defeating No. 11 Jace Pardon/Vanessa Freire, 21-6, 21-18, then beat No. 3 Jessica Stubinski/Megan Brockway, 17-21, 21-18, 16-14, and No. 2 Heather McGuire/Amanda Dowdy, 21-17, 21-16, to get to the championship match.

    The win qualifies Hughes/Claes not only for 3 NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit events in September (in Florida on Sept. 9-13, in the Dominican Republic on Sept. 16-21 and in Puerto Rico on Sept. 23-28), but they have been chosen to be one of the USA's entrants in the upcoming FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam on Aug. 18-23.

    Last month, Hughes and Claes won a NORCECA qualifier in Hermosa, qualifying them for NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit events on Aug. 5-10 in Canada, Aug. 11-17 in the Dominican Republic and Aug. 26-31 in Cuba.

    The pair are coming off an impressive third place finish in the AVP New York City Open on July 19. They are also expected to compete in the AVP Manhattan Beach Open Aug. 14-16.

    Hughes/Claes both are going into their junior years at USC. Hughes won the 2014 AVCA pairs title as a freshman with Kirby Burnham prior to her 2015 victory with Claes.