NCAA: USC wins Pac-12 beach, top seeds make men’s D-III semis

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USC celebrates its team-title win over UCLA/Pac-12 photo by Bert Thomas

USC lost for the first time in almost two years, but the top-ranked Trojans bounced back in a big way and are the Pac-12 beach volleyball champions.

In the Big West beach tournament, Long Beach and Hawai’i are headed for a Saturday showdown.

And in men’s NCAA Division III volleyball, host Springfield, Stevens Institute, defending-champion SUNY New Paltz and Wentworth advanced to Saturday’s national semifinals.

USC wins again: But not before losing to UCLA for the first time ever. The second-ranked Bruins beat USC 3-2 to snap USC’s 62-match winning streak, which sent the Trojans to the elimination bracket in the tournament at the University of Arizona.

They responded by by sweeping Washington before coming right back and winning a 3-2 thriller over UCLA for their second straight title.

All this was in preparation for next week’s National Collegiate Beach Championship in Gulf Shores, Ala., where USC will likely be the No. 1 seed and UCLA probably solidified the No. 2.

In the final, the Pac-12 Network directors were working at breakneck speed because all five duals mattered.

USC’s Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes worked quickly against UCLA’s top pair of Megan and Nicole McNamara to claim the first point 21-8, 21-16. Southpaw Nicole McNamara was forced to serve and spike with her right hand following a shoulder injury earlier in the day, and the McNamaras would withdraw from the pairs competition. The Bruins’ Jordan Anderson and Izzy Carey tied it by sweeping Abril Bustamante and Katrina Kernochan 21-18, 21-9.

Trojans Sophie Bukovec and Allie Wheeler beat UCLA’s Kamila Tan and Madi Yeomans 21-10, 18-21, 15-13.

But then it was tied again when Lily Justine and Savvy Simo battled back to beat Jenna Bolton and Jo Kremer at No. 5 10-21, 21-14, 15-13.

That put all the attention on the No. 2 pairs.

After a 13-13 tie in the third set, the Trojans’ Sophie Bukovec and Allie Wheeler clinched it by beating UCLA’s Kamila Tan and Madi Yeomans 21-10, 18-21, 15-13.

The day started with UCLA knocking off USC and Washington upsetting Arizona.

UCLA’s victory came down to Anderson and Carey beating Bustamante and Kernochan 22-20, 22-20. The Bruins pair stood 21-1 for the season at day’s end.

Eight Pac-12 pairs remain: Once the team tournament ended, the pairs competition began and the top-eight seeds held serve and are in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

And the names are familiar. Complete coverage of the tournament and pairs competition can be found at the Pac-12 tournament page.

Match 1: No.16 Campbell/Anderson, CAL def. No.17 Trueman/Choy, UTAH, 21-10, 22-20
Match 2: No.15 Bark/Rodberg, CAL def. No.18 Agost/Raskie, ORE, 21-14, 21-15
Match 3: No.6 Bukovec/Wheeler, USC def. No.11 Berridge/Okaro, ASU, 21-16, 26-24
Match 4: No.7 Plummer/Gray, STAN def. No.10 Hallaran/Mcdonald, ARIZ, 21-16, 21-14
Match 5: No.8 Zappia/Van Winden, UCLA def. No.9 Anae/Barton, UTAH, 13-21, 21-18, 15-11
Match 6: No.3 Arellano/Follette, ASU def. No.14 Vander Weide/Van Sickle, ORE, 21-13, 21-19
Match 7: No.4 Scambray/Jones, WASH def. No.13 Chang/Vanjak, STAN, 21-11, 21-16
Match 8: No.5 Witt/Witt, ARIZ def. No.12 Strickland/Schwan, WASH, 21-11, 21-14
Match 9: No.2 Tan/Yeomans, UCLA def. No.15 Bark/Rodberg, CAL, 21-18, 21-13
Match 10: No.1 Claes/Hughes, USC def., No.16 Campbell/Anderson, CAL, 21-5, 21-7

Long Beach, Hawai’i win in Big West: Long Beach beat Sacramento State 4-1, while Hawai’i beat Cal Poly by the same score. The two play each other Saturday, with the winner moving into the final and loser having to play back in as USC did Friday in the Pac-12. Click here for the Big West tournament website.

Juniata's Sean Cavanagh attacks the Wentworth block of Alex Potts, left, and Collin Ritter/Chris Unger photo
Juniata’s Sean Cavanagh attacks the Wentworth block of Alex Potts, left, and Collin Ritter/Chris Unger photo

Men’s D-III down to four: The host team, Springfield (27-2), opened the Division III Men’s Volleyball Championship by sweeping Hunter 25-13, 25-13, 25-16. 

D-III national player of the year Luis Vega led the way with 11 kills in 14 swings and no errors to hit .786. He also had one of his team’s 15 aces and one of its 14 errors, one of the more remarkable team serving stats of the season on any level.

Kyle Jasuta had eight kills in nine errorless swings to hit .889 and Jonathan Rodriguez added six kills on eight swings with only one error to hit .625. Their team hit .473. Ricardo Padilla Ayala had six aces and five errors.

Hunter (28-7) hit .167 despite Springfield having just two blocks, including a solo by Rodriguez. Steven Tarquino led Hunter with five kills.

Springfield, which lost in last year’s title match, will play Stevens Institute, which beat Dominican 25-21, 25-17, 28-26, 25-23. Stevens improved to 31-5, while Dominican’s season ended 26-3.

Freshman David Lehman led Stevens with a career-high 19 kills and hit .300 as his team hit .410. Gabe Shankweiler added 13 kills and hit .478 and had five digs and three blocks, one solo.

Michael Kawa led Dominican with 19 kills and Luke Spicer had 18.

New Paltz (26-8) moved into a semifinal for the fourth consecutive season and will play Wentworth (28-6).

New Paltz swept Vassar 25-19, 25-15, 25-23 as Jake Roessler went off with a career-high 26 kills in 35 swings with one error to hit .657. His teammates, led by Steven Woessner’s 10, combined for 25 kills.

Vassar, ending its season 26-8, got 10 kills from Matthew Knigge.

Wentworth swept Juniata 25-20, 25-17, 25-21. The Leopards got 12 kills from Jake Reed, who hit .400, 11 from Jon Roat, who had 11 and hit .333, and 10 from Sean Mullen, who .500 and had two of his team’s eight aces and four of its eight errors.

Juniata’s season ended 22-11. Quinn Peterson and Sean Cavanaugh led with seven kills each.

Click here for the D-III bracket and tourney info.

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