Beach volleyball prepares for two home matches

first_imgAfter spending spring break playing on the sands of Queen’s Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, the No. 3-ranked USC beach volleyball team (9-2) is back in action on the mainland when they host No. 6-ranked Long Beach State (2-5) and No. 19-ranked Cal (7-4) Tuesday at Merle Norman Stadium. First serve against the 49ers will begin at 12:30 p.m., while the match against the Bears will follow at approximately 2 p.m.Starting out the season ranked atop the AVCA National Poll, a pair of tight 3-2 losses to Pepperdine and Florida State in a span of six days pushed USC back to sit at third overall in the nation. However, the Women of Troy seem to have regained their stride after a successful trip to the Islands, in which they posted four straight victories over tournament host and No. 5-ranked Hawaii and No. 15-ranked Nebraska to win the Hawaii Invitational.USC defeated both schools twice over the weekend as part of the four-team tournament, recording a pair of 4-1 victories over the Rainbow Wahine and the Cornhuskers on Thursday. In Saturday’s rematches, the Women of Troy put up a clean 5-0 sweep over Nebraska in the morning and capped the evening off with a 3-2 win over the host school. With the victories, the Women of Troy extended their winning streak to five dual matches in a row.In addition to winning the team tournament, the Women of Troy also produced a trio of champions in the Hawaii Invitational Pairs Tournament. USC’s top six teams dominated the field as all three championship matches in each flight were made up of USC pairs.In the gold bracket, the No. 1-pair of juniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes defeated teammates and the No. 2-pair of junior Sophie Bukovec and senior Alexa Strange, 21-15, 21-19. The silver bracket final saw No. 3-pair of juniors Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler outlast underclassmen and the No. 4-pair of sophomore Jenna Belton and freshman Abril Bustamante in three, 21-15, 19-21, 15-9, while the bronze bracket final had the No. 5-pair of sophomore Jo Kremer and senior Zoe Nightingale win over the No. 6-pair of sophomore Terese Cannon and freshman Katrina Kernochan in two sets, 21-15, 21-18. Furthermore, the bronze flight had freshman Becca Dunn and senior Emily Young win the fifth-place consolation match as USC’s seventh pair. Overall, USC went 16-4 on the day, with three of those losses coming at the hands of other Women of Troy pairs.After spending time on the island, the Women of Troy are now back in Los Angeles ready to face two in-state rivals at Merle Norman Stadium. USC will start with some familiar faces across the net in No. 6-ranked LBSU. Having defeated the 49ers once already this season, the Women of Troy have the upper hand playing at home. However, Long Beach State is one of just two programs in the country that own a winning record against USC all-time, albeit a slim 5-4 margin. The teams’ last meeting was back on March 6 at Zuma Beach for the Pepperdine Kick-Off, where the Women of Troy had to rely on Martin and Wheeler to win in 3 sets and seal the exciting 3-2 victory.The No. 19-ranked Cal Bears also come to Troy with a four-match winning streak. Tuesday will mark just the second all-time meeting between the two Pac-12 foes, with the last meeting going in USC’s favor by way of a 5-0 sweep over the Bears. Both matches on Tuesday will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.last_img

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