Defending national-champion and top-ranked USC opened the NCAA beach season in style Saturday, knocking off No. 3 UCLA and No. 4 Pepperdine.

The ninth-ranked Loyola men, however, were upset by what was the last-place team in the MIVA, Lindenwood. Otherwise, there was relative normalcy on a busy men’s Saturday sprinkled with late-season mid-conference matchups.

Women’s beach

The heavyweights were out in full force Saturday at Zuma Beach on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, Calif., for the Pepperdine Kick-Off.

USC beat No. 3 UCLA 3-2 and No. 4 Pepperdine 4-1. The Women of Troy have now won 32 matches in a row and 64 of their last 66.

Against UCLA, defending national-champions Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes, who entered the season on a 73-match NCAA winning streak, were 21-18, 21-12 winners. Terese Cannon and Nicolette Martin won at No. 3, while Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer were three-set winners at No. 5.

Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes (pictured) went 2-0 against Pepperdine and UCLA/Ed Chan,
Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes (pictured) went 2-0 against Pepperdine and UCLA/Ed Chan,

“Today was good, it was very nice,” USC coach Anna Collier told VBM’s Ed Chan. “Two victories, we have a lot to work on, but I like victories. I’m pleased, but again, we do have a lot to work on. Our chemistry worked really well. I think all the pairs will stick. We’re pretty solid. We spent a lot of time in the fall getting them together, so I usually don’t change anything unless there’s an injury or something.”

UCLA had wins from its No. 2 team of Kamila Tan and Madi Yeomans (three-set winners) and its No. 4 team of Elise Zappia and Izzy Carey.

Claes and Hughes were 21-12, 21-13 winners at No. 1 in the victory against Pepperdine. Sophie Bukovec and Allie Wheeler won 21-15, 21-18 at No. 2, while Abril Bustamante and Joy Dennis won 21-13, 25-23 at No. 4. Belton and Kremer won in three sets at No. 5.

The streak for Claes and Hughes that started on April 2, 2015 is now at 75. USC also pulled even with Pepperdine in the all-time series at 8-8. And it gave Collier her 110th career win in her sixth season at USC.

Skylar Caputo and Heidi Dyer were 22-20, 21-14 winners at No. 3 for the Waves.

In Pepperdine’s 3-2 win over UCLA, the Waves’ No. 2 team of Corinne Quiggle and Brittany Howard were 21-15, 21-19 winners. Caputo and Dyer won 21-12, 18-21, 16-14 at No. 3, while Gigi Hernandez and Katty Workman were three-set winners at No. 5.

The Waves' Corinne Quiggle split against USC and UCLA at Zuma on Saturday/Ed Chan,
The Waves’ Corinne Quiggle split against USC and UCLA at Zuma on Saturday/Ed Chan,

“I knew we were going to be battle-tested today,” Pepperdine coach Nina Matthies said. “We need to work on a few things, but a good day overall.”

Matthies has a relatively young squad this season.

“Our youth is awesome,” she said. “We’re pretty young and we have a lot of things to work on. We knew that. We were anxious to play someone on the other side of the net besides ourselves. This will help us in our training and breaking down the film. I’m overall very pleased with our play today. I love our pairs and I love my team. My team has chemistry. It’s a great group of kids. They’re all bought in and working really hard. They are fun to coach.”

Megan and Nicole McNamara were 21-14, 21-16 winners at No. 1, while Elise Zappia and Izzy Carey won at No. 4 for the Bruins.

UCLA started five freshmen.

Bruin sophomore Nicole McNamara digs a cut shot against Pepperdine/Ed Chan,

“I’m pleased with the way our team battled,” Bruins coach Stein Metzger said. “Even though we were young last year, we’re even younger this year. To come out and be right in the thick of it, we lost three three-gamers, and if those go our way, we beat both those teams. We’re right where we want to be. We’re developing throughout the season considering those freshmen are new. I’m really excited for what’s in store for us.”

In matches related to teams in the Big West Conference, Long Beach State was a 5-0 winner over Irvine Valley and a 5-0 winner over CSU Bakersfield. Stanford won 4-1 against Cal Poly, while Cal Poly was a 4-1 winner against Pacific.

Cal Poly plays twice on Sunday against St. Mary’s and Cal in Palo Alto, Calif.

At the Arizona Invitational in Tucson, Hawaii downed Jacksonville 5-0 and scored a 4-1 win over Grand Canyon.

In Atlantic Sun-related action, Mercer was a 4-1 winner over Louisiana-Monroe, while North Florida was a 5-0 winner against Spring Hill at St. Augustine, Fla. Monroe and Tulane play on Sunday.

Sunday ASUN action in St. Augustine sees North Florida in action three times against Georgia State, South Carolina and Flagler. LSU and Stetson will square off in DeLand, Fla.

In the Pac 12, Arizona State was a 3-2 winner over No. 6 Arizona in Tucson. It was ASU’s first win over a top-10 program in the team’s four-year history and comes three matches into first-year head coach Brad Keenan’s tenure.

No. 14 Cal defeated St. Mary’s and Pacific by scores of 3-2 at Stanford. Cal faces Cal Poly and Santa Clara Sunday at Stanford.

Oregon dropped a 3-2 decision to Portland at Chemeketa College in Salem, Ore. The two teams meet again Sunday morning.

NCAA men

Play wrapped up in a four-team event at Penn State, No. 5 Lewis notched another win and No. 9 Loyola was shocked in Missouri.

No. 9 Stanford of the MPSF beat host Penn State of the EIVA, sweeping the 15th-ranked Nittany Lions 25-20, 25-17, 25-23.

Penn State trailed 17-11 in the third set and got to 24-23 before Stanford’s Clay Jones finished the match with a kill. Jones had 12 kills to lead Stanford. Eric Beatty added four blocks. Stanford moved to 11-7 overall.

Penn State, which dropped to 12-7, was led by Aidan Albrecht’s 11 kills. He hit .381. Matt Callaway had three blocks, while Luke Braswell dished out 32 assists.

The other match saw No. 13 UC Santa Barbara of the MPSF sweep Lees-McRae 25-16, 25-16, 25-10. The Gauchos moved to 8-1, while Lees-McRae of Conference Carolinas dropped to 5-11.

Santa Barbara, which hit .361 in the match, was led by Keenan Sanders’ 11 kills and .562 hitting percentage. He also had five service aces. Brandon Hopper had eight kills and hit .636. Sanders added five block assists, while Spencer Fredrick had five kills and six digs.

John Sobel had nine kills to lead Lees-McRae.

MIVA: No. 5 Lewis hit a season-best .449 in a 25-21, 25-18, 25-19 MIVA win at Quincy.

Lewis upped its winning streak to seven matches and improved to 15-3 overall and 9-2 in conference play.

Kyle Bugee, Trevor Weiskircher and Jacob Schmiegelt combined for 34 kills, matching the entire output of the Quincy team. Bugee had 13 kills and hit .571. Weiskircher had 11 kills and hit .444, while Schmiegelt hit 1.000 with 10 kills on 10 swings.

David Siebum had 10 kills to lead Quincy.

Lindenwood has beat a ranked opponent in two seasons as Loyola Chicago went to St. Charles, Mo., and dropped a 25-18, 25-23, 22-25, 25-12. Lindenwood moved to 2-14 overall and 2-9 in MIVA play, while Loyola dropped to 10-6, 6-3.

Loyola hit only .118 in the contest (40 kills, 26 errors, 119 swings). Ben Plaisted led Loyola with 11 kills. Jeff Jendryk and Paul Narup had seven kills each.

Blake Koppel’s 17 kills and Michael Chard’s 10 kills paced Lindenwood, which hit .348 in the fourth set.

EIVA: Princeton moved back into a first-place tie with Penn State in the EIVA after a 25-15, 25-20, 22-25, 18-25, 15-11 home win against Charleston W. Va. Princeton improved to 8-7 overall and 6-2 in league play. Charleston dropped to 7-10, 0-7.

Parker Dixon’s 16 kills led Princeton, while Mike Fuerst had 13 kills, four digs and three blocks.

Byron Hurd had 17 kills to lead the way for Charleston.

St. Francis hosted MIVA entrant McKendree in non-conference play and lost 23-25, 25-19, 25-22, 27-25 to the visitors.

Nolan Rueter’s 19 kills led the way for McKendree (7-12). Pasquale Fiduccia had 14 digs.

Jeff Hogan recorded 22 kills for Saint Francis, which dropped to 8-11 overall. Adam Kniffen had 13 digs.

George Mason was a 3-1 winner against Coker in a non-conference match to improve to 7-9. Jack Wilson led Mason with 17 kills, while Johnny Gomez had nine kills. Joao Victor Santos had 12 kills to pace Coker (9-4).

Conference Carolinas: A busy day of play in Conference Carolinas saw Mount Olive down Pfeiffer 3-0. Robert Poole’s nine kills led Mount Olive (12-6, 10-1 CC). Pfeiffer fell to 0-10 overall and in conference. Jesse Print had nine kills and hit .400 on 20 swings.

Barton improved to 12-4 overall and 10-2 in CC action with a 3-0 win over Belmont Abbey (3-11, 2-8). Angelos Mandilaris (12 kills), Aleksa Brkovic (11 kills) and Vasilis Mandilaris (10 kills) led Barton, which hit .453 in the match and made only seven hitting errors. Liam Maxwell had eight kills for Abbey.

In other CC action, Limestone edged Erskine 3-2, while North Greenvile was a 3-1 winner over Lincoln Memorial in non-conference action.

Limestone (8-5, 8-4) won despite hitting .195 or lower in four of the five sets. Bruno Kretzschmar had 15 kills, while Dylan Lavner had 12 kills and Kevin Rocklein added 10 kills for Limestone. Logan Riley had 46 assists. Isaac Lanier’s 22 kills on 53 swings to go with eight digs led Erskine (3-12, 3-8).

North Greenville moved to 7-11 after a 3-1 win over Lincoln Memorial. Matthew McManaway had 12 kills, whle Ben Hamsho had 10 for the winners. Evan Cory’s 12 kills led Memorial (7-12).

And finally, King was a 3-0 winner over Alderson Broaddus in a non-conference match held at Rex Pyles Arena in Philippi, W. Va.

King moved to 15-2 overall behind nine kills from Kiel Bell. Nick Drooker had 25 assists and Eddie Moushikhian had eight kills and three aces. Jose Ramirez had eight kills and Obenda Besongngem had seven for Broaddus (4-11).

It’s a dry Sunday around the men’s college circuit as no matches are scheduled in the MPSF, MIVA, EIVA or Conference Carolinas.

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