Claes and Hughes Capture Gold at NORCECA Puerto Rico|
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Aug. 8, 2016
BOQUERON, Puerto Rico -- USC beach volleyball seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes secured their second NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation) title at the Puerto Rico stop on Cabo Rojo sand on Sunday, Aug. 7. The tandem also won gold at the NORCECA North Bay stop on July 3.
Claes and Hughes went 5-0 and dropped just one set in the tournament. Seeded No. 1 in the field, the duo faced second-seeded Marie Lapointe and Megan Nagy of Canada and earned a 21-11, 21-15 victory in the title match. It is the sixth NORCECA event won by an American pair this season.
To get to the final, Claes and Hughes knocked off fellow Americans Amanda Dowdy and Emily Stockman in the semifinals. They dropped their only set of the tourney in that match but overcame the first-set misstep to prevail, 19-21, 21-15, 15-13. Dowdy and Stockman went on to finish third in the final standings.
In the quarterfinals, Claes-Hughes defeated Nicaragua's seventh-seeded pair of Socorro Lopez and Valeria Mendoza, 21-13, 21-15. In pool matches, the Trojan duo won both matches (with one bye). First, they dispatched of the eighth seeded team of Maria Andrea Orellana and Maria Jose Orellana of Guatemala, 21-8, 21-12. They also defeated Puerto Rico's ninth-seeded pair of Dariam Acevedo and Valeria Porrata-Doria, 21-11, 21-12.
Up next, Claes and Hughes return to Southern California to take part in the FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball) Long Beach Grand Slam. The tournament set to take place on Long Beach's Queensway Bay, August 24-28, will feature top pairs from around the globe including both of the U.S.'s Olympic pairs; April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings, and Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat.
Claes and Hughes received berths into three NORCECA tour events by winning the qualifier in Hermosa Beach (May 28). On the American pro circuit, the pair took third at the AVP's New York City (June 19) stop and then made their first-ever appearance in an AVP final to take second place at the AVP San Francisco event (June 26).
This past spring, the top-ranked USC beach volleyball team finished with a 34-2 overall record and secured the inaugural Pac-12 championship and the sport's first-ever NCAA crown. The Women of Troy completed a 30-match winning streak and defeated Florida State, 3-0, in the first NCAA title match to cement themselves as the first-ever back-to-back collegiate beach volleyball national champions. Head coach Anna Collier became the first coach to reach the 100-win mark and is 108-17 in five seasons at Troy for an .864 winning percentage. Claes and Hughes went undefeated with a 48-0 record and dropped just one set all season. They were each named AVCA All-Americans and won the first-ever Pac-12 Pairs championship.
For more information on the two-time national champion USC beach volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCBeach on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Instagram, and Snapchat.