The poll, the AVCA top pair, a top-10 synopsis, schedules and what’s happening around the nation follow.
USC and Florida State are tied at No. 1 in the AVCA Collegiate Coaches Poll, with seven first-place votes each. The tie is not likely to be resolved until April 3-4, when FSU heads West to USC to face both USC and UCLA twice.
TCU stays at No. 10, while Cal falls from No. 9 to No. 11.
Click here for the complete AVCA beach poll.
AVCA top pair
LSU’s Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss are the AVCA pair of the week after the Tigers’ No. 1s went 5-0 against four ranked opponents. Kloth and Nuss have been stellar all year with a 13-0 record. Their signature win this week was a 21-16, 16-21, 15-12 win over FSU’s Alaina Chacon-Molly McBain.
No. 1 USC (8-0)
Top-ranked USC continued to roll, sweeping both No. 18 Long Beach State and No. 7 Loyola Marymount. Two Trojan pairs, Tina Graudina-Sammy Slater and Joy Dennis-Delaynie Maple won both matches without dropping a set.
Next up: USC hosts Bakersfield Thursday before returning to Malibu for a rematch against No. 8 Pepperdine Sunday.
No. 1 Florida State (13-0)
The Seminoles maintained their undefeated record, earning a tie at the top of the AVCA poll, the first time in the program’s history. FSU won a trio of matches at the March to May event in Gulf Shores, Ala., sweeping No. 10 TCU, a 4-1 win against No. 9 Grand Canyon before being challenged by No. 3 LSU (3-2).
“We battled today,” FSU coach Brooke Niles said after. “There were a lot of ups and downs and we played some really tough teams but we never gave up and fought for every point. Our team showed a lot of character today and I’m so proud of them.
“It’s an honor to be one of the top teams in the country and a testament to how hard our players have worked. However there is still a lot of season to be played and this motivates us to work even harder.”
Next up: Florida State participates in the FAU Beach Bash in Paradise March 19-20, with No. 14 Stetson, FGCU, UAB and No. 12 FAU.
No. 3 LSU (11-2)
The Tigers had a busy week in Gulf Shores, finishing 4-1 on the weekend. LSU defeated No. 17 Georgia State (5-0), No. 20 Tulane (4-1), No. 9 Grand Canyon (4-1) and UAB (5-0). The Tigers lost their rematch to top-ranked Florida State but made some progress, winning on courts one and four behind the play of Taryn Kloth-Kristen Nuss and Jess Lansman-Sydney Moore.
“That was the strongest resistance we’ve faced so far this year and we definitely responded well to it,” LSU coach Russell Brock said. “The effort the team showed was incredible. It’s tough to lose one that was so close.”
“I loved the effort today…I’m really proud of how everyone came to work today and took care of business.”
Next up: LSU hosts the LSU Beach Invitational this weekend, featuring New Orleans, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, No. 16 South Carolina, Houston Baptist and Southern Miss.
No. 4 UCLA (6-1, 3-0)
The Bruins won a pair of 4-1 duals at home against No. 8 Pepperdine Thursday, overcoming some food poisoning challenges. UCLA was solid at the No.s 1, 4 and 5 flights, with Lexy Denaburg-Savvy Simo, Megan Muret-Jacqueline Quade and Cami Sanchez-Jaden Whitmarsh winning both of their matches in straight sets.
Next up: UCLA heads to No. 8 Pepperdine on Thursday for a pair of duals against the Waves at 10 a.m. and noon.
No. 5 Cal Poly (6-3)
The Mustangs added three wins to their resume this week, defeating The Master’s University (4-1), CSU Bakersfield (4-1) and No. 8 Pepperdine (3-2). The Mustangs had to come back from a 1-2 deficit against Pepperdine before No. 5 Josie Ulrich and Vanessa Roscoe and No. 1 Emily Sonny and Macy Gordon clinched the dual with straight set wins.
Next up: Cal Poly plays its first home matches of the year, hosting No. 15 Arizona and Boise State Sunday, March 21.
No. 6 Hawai’i (0-0)
The Beachbows were still idle this week, but will kick off their 2021 campaign at UC Davis Monday and Tuesday against No. 19 Stanford, Davis and No. 11 Cal.
No. 7 Loyola Marymount (8-2)
The Lions split duals this week, beating Long Beach State (3-2) before being swept by No. 1 USC. Against No. 18 Long Beach, the No. 2,3, and 5 pairs came through for the win, with Selina Marolf-Reka Orsi Toth, Jessie Prichard-Savannah Slattery and Emma Doud-Madi Firnett all earning straight set wins.
Next up: Loyola goes to CSUN Thursday, then hosts Utah and The Master’s University Saturday.
No. 8 Pepperdine (1-6)
Although it might seem strange that a 1-6 team is ranked eighth, the Waves have played the toughest schedule in the nation to date. Five of the six losses are to the Waves’ neighbors to the south, No. 1 USC and No. 4 UCLA. Their sixth loss? A 3-2 loss to their northern neighbor, No. 5 Cal Poly. Last week Pepperdine lost a pair of 4-1 duals to UCLA and the previously mentioned loss to Cal Poly.
“We are a little disappointed with the beginning of our season,” coach Marcio Sicoli said, “but we expected a lot of challenges due to the limitations imposed by the worldwide pandemic. We are working through it as a team and look forward to being back in Gulf Shores this May.”
Next up: Pepperdine stays home for duals against Concordia and No. 1 USC Sunday, March 21.
No. 9 Grand Canyon (7-3)
Grand Canyon went 3-2 at last weekend’s March to May. The Lopes had wins over No. 10 TCU (3-2), UAB (4-1) and No. 20 Tulane (3-2), but had identical 4-1 losses to No. 1 Florida State and No. 3 LSU. No. 4 pairing Allanis Navas-Paula Hoffman and No. 2 Anaya Evans-Madi Relaz were GCU’s bright spots against both FSU and LSU.
Next up: GCU hosts No. 19 Stanford, Arizona State and Utah March 25-26, including Senior Day prior to the Utah dual Friday.
No. 10 TCU (10-3)
The Horned Frogs went 3-2 on the March to May, with wins over No. 20 Tulane (3-2), No. 17 Georgia State (4-1) and UAB (5-1) but losses to No. 9 Grand Canyon (3-2) and No. 1 Florida State (5-0). The win over Georgia State is the sixth win over a ranked team, tying the program record. Daniela Alvarez-Tania Moreno Mateeva tallied a team-best 11th win of the season, while Olivia Blackburn-Hailey Brockett are 10-1, the team’s highest winning percentage.
Next up: TCU is off to Fort Worth for duals with Texas A&M-Kingsville, ULM, and Stephen F. Austin March 19-20.
Around the Nation
Arizona’s Alex Parkhurst and Sarah Blacker won an exhibition pairs event at UC Davis March 15. The pair went 5-0 against pairs from Arizona and UC Davis to win their flight. The exhibition event followed a Arizona-UC Davis dual, won 4-1 by Arizona.
North Florida (9-3) went 4-0 to conclude the UNF Spring Fling, sweeping Eckerd, Charleston and North Alabama. The Ospreys also beat Charleston 4-1 to win 19 of the 20 dual matches. The win over Charleston was its third this year, as well as their second sweep of North Alabama in four days.
After three weeks of play, 12 pairs are undefeated. Missing from the list this week are TCU’s Hailey Brockett-Olivia Blackburn (No. 2) and Rochelle Scott-Maria Gonzalez (No. 3), who both dropped matches this weekend to FSU.
Not surprisingly, half of the pairs are from the undefeated USC and FSU squads. The 12 remaining unbeaten pairs: