The No. 2-ranked USC Trojans eked out a 3-2 win over the No. 1-ranked Pepperdine Waves at the USA Volleyball Collegiate Challenge in Hermosa Beach, California, April 9-10, 2016. The win avenged a 2-3 loss to the Waves in the season opener on March 5.

USC earned its revenge against Pepperdine in a dramatic come from behind fashion, losing the first set on every court except in the No. 1 match-up between Trojans Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes and Waves Taylor Racich and Heidi Dyer. Hughes and Claes defense was too strong for the Racich and Dyer, and the Trojans won 21-10, 21-13.

Next to finish was the No. 2 court where Delaney Knudsen and Kaity Bailey of Pepperdine defeated Sophie Bukovec and Alexa Strange of USC 21-17, 21-18.

In the No. 5 pairing, Pepperdine’s Samantha Cash and Sarah Seiber closed the door on USC’s Jo Kremer and Zoe Nightingale 21-18, 21-11, giving a 2-1 edge to Pepperdine.

USC proved up to the challenge, however, as the Trojans No. 3 and No. 4 pairsNicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler and Jenna Belton and Abril Bustamante, respectivelypulled out games two and three over Pepperdine’s Skylar Caputo and Corinne Quiggle and Madalyn Roh and Anika Wilson by identical 21-14, 15-8 scores, prompting a team dogpile as Martin and Wheeler scored the final point.

USC finished 2-0 in Saturday’s team competition, adding a 5-0 win over Loyola Marymount University to their victory over the Waves. Pepperdine finished 1-1 with a sweep of Long Beach State. UCLA swept both Long Beach and University of San Francisco to finish 2-0. USF finished 1-1 with a 5-0 win over Concordia but dropped a 0-5 contest to UCLA. LMU finished 1-1 as well, with a 3-2 win over Concordia and a 0-5 loss to USC. Long Beach State and Concordia finished winless with 0-2 records.

Sunday’s pairs competition proved to be anticlimactic as Pepperdine opted not to participate, and UCLA chose to rest key players. Their decisions were prompted by the fact that there is no pairs competition at this year’s NCAA championship in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

As a result, USC dominated the pairs competition. In the gold bracket final, Hughes and Claes defeated teammates Strange and Bukovec 21-9, 21-13, claiming the gold bracket championship without dropping a set. The pair is 27-0 on the season and has won 52 straight matches dating back to 2015.

Pairs Competition Results

Gold Bracket
1. Sara Hughes/Kelly Claes, USC
2. Sophie Bukovec/Alexa Strange, USC
3. Nele Barber/Rachel Nieto, Long Beach

Silver Bracket
1. Kobi Pecich/Samantha Cash, Long Beach
2. Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler, USC
3. Karly Drolson/Rachel Inouye, UCLA

Bronze Bracket
1. Jo Kremer/Zoe Nightingale, USC
2. Emily Young/Becca Dunn, USC
3. Katrina Kernochan/Teresa Cannon, USC

USC’s team win puts it in a head-to-head tie with Pepperdine at 1-1. The rubber match will be held at USC’s Merle Norman Stadium on Thursday, April 14, 2016, at 4:30 p.m. PT.


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