USC’s Claes, Hughes cap perfect regular season with third weekly honor

Greg Ball

SAN FRANCISCO - USC juniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes capped an undefeated regular season with five victories at the Outrigger Resorts Aloha Invitational to claim their third Pac-12 Conference Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week award of the league's inaugural 2016 season.

Claes and Hughes won in straight sets in all five of their matches, quickly dispatching opponents from ULM and No. 16 Grand Canyon to claim the gold bracket pairs title before sweeping a trio of top-flight matches against foes from GCU and host No. 5 Hawai’i to lead top ranked USC to the Invitational’s team title.

The juniors from Fullerton and Costa Mesa, Calif., respectively, will enter this week’s inaugural Pac-12 Championships with a 36-0 overall mark this spring, including a 28-0 record in duals, as part of a 61-match win streak dating back to last season. The duo led the No. 1 ranked Trojans to a 26-2 record in the regular season, highlighted by 22 consecutive victories heading into the Championships.

Paced by three awards from the pair of Claes and Hughes, USC claimed six of the eight Pair of the Week awards of the first season of Pac-12 Beach Volleyball, with UCLA collecting the other two.

The Pac-12 Championships will take place at USC’s Merle Norman Stadium in Los Angeles from Thursday, April 28 to Sunday, May 1, with Pairs Bracket play on Thursday and Friday followed by Team Bracket action on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Pac-12 Networks will broadcast the Pairs Bracket semifinals and final on Friday starting at 10 a.m. PT and the final four matches of the Team Bracket beginning Sunday at 9 a.m. PT.

For more information, including complete schedules and television coverage of the Pac-12 Championships, please visit http://pac-12.com/beach-volleyball/championships.

ALSO NOMINATED: Jianna Bonomi & Katarina Schulz, ARIZ; Bianca Arellano & Whitney Follette, ASU; Ivey Schmitt & Kamila Tan, UCLA; Cassie Strickland & Courtney Schwan, WASH.

Week of Pair of the Week
March 7 Nicolette Martin & Allie Wheeler, USC
March 14 Julie Consani & Laurel Weaver, UCLA
March 21 Kelly Claes & Sara Hughes, USC
March 28 Jenna Belton & Abril Bustamante, USC
April 4 Megan McNamara & Nicole McNamara, UCLA
April 11 Kelly Claes & Sara Hughes, USC
April 18 Sophie Bukovec & Alexa Strange, USC
April 25 Kelly Claes & Sara Hughes, USC
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