NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships: USC advances to winner's bracket final; UCLA falls to elimination bracket

The 2017 NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship got under way Friday morning in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The Conference of Champions boasts the top two seeds, No. 1 USC and No. 2 UCLA, in the double-elimination bracket. Check back throughout the day for the latest updates on the Trojans and Bruins.

[Related: 2017 NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships bracket (NCAA.com)]

UCLA

Match #8: No. 3 seed Pepperdine – 3, No. 2 seed UCLA – 1

The only blemish for the Pac-12 in Friday's NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships action came in the last match of the day as the Bruins fell to Pepperdine 3-1. In the closest match of the day by far, UCLA took two of the first sets against the Waves. And while the McNamara twins, Megan and Nicole, staked the women from Westood a 1-0 lead in the dual (21-16, 21-16 over Delaney Knudsen and Madlyn Roh), the lead was short-lived as the dominoes quick fell quickly in Pepperdine's favor.

Just moments later, Anika Wilson and Deahna Kraft tallied a 21-18, 21-16 straight-set victory over the Bruins' Jordan Anderson and Izzy Carey. Then UCLA's Kamila Tan and Madi Yeomans fell 17-21, 17-21 to Pepperdine's Brittany Howard and Corinne Quiggle. The clincher came as the Waves' Sarah Seiber and Nikki Lyons closed out a hard-fought 21-19, 21-19 win over the Bruins' Savvy Simo and Lily Justine. 

UCLA will now have to work their way through the elimination bracket, starting Saturday afternoon against Florida State starting at 11 a.m. PT/12 p.m. MT.

USC

Match #7: No. 1 seed USC – 3, No. 5 seed Hawai'i – 0

The defending NCAA champs continued their roll as USC blanked Hawai'i 3-0 in the winner's bracket semifinal Friday afternoon. The Trojans put the pressure on early, taking the first set in four of the five matches. Terese Cannon and Nicolette Martin were the first to wrap things up, using an ace to clinch a 21-19, 21-13 victory over Hawai'i's Emily Maglio and Laurel Weaver.

Next up were USC's Abril Bustamante and Joy Dennis, who had to work hard to close out the Wahine's Ari Homayun and Carly Kan 21-18, 25-23. Wrapping things up was the Trojans' unstoppable duo of Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes. They managed to put away the first set 21-17 over the Hawai'ian pair of Morgan Martin and Mikayla Tucker, but needed a late rally to top the Wahine 22-20.

The Trojans will now play Pepperdine in the winner's bracket final Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. PT/2 .m. MT on truTV.

UCLA

Match #3: No. 2 seed UCLA – 3, No. 7 seed LSU – 0

The Bruins continued the Pac-12's strong start to the tournament, shutting out seventh-seeded LSU 3-0 Friday morning. The women of Westwood got on the board first with a 21-18, 21-16 victory by Justine and Simo over the Tigers' Megan Davenport and Riley Young. 

The McNamara twins worked from behind to put UCLA up 2-0 in the dual with an 18-21, 21-11, 15-10 win over LSU's Clair Coppola and Kristen Nuss. The eventual clinching match would be more of a dogfight, as the Bruins' Tan and Yeomans split the first two sets with Emmy Allen and Maddie Ligon, before prevailing 21-19, 17-21, 15-10.

USC

Match #1: No. 1 seed USC – 4, No. 8 seed South Carolina – 0

The reigning Pac-12 champions got off to a hot start this morning down in Alabama, dispatching the Gamecocks in convincing fashion. The Trojans won the first set in all five of their matches. The tandem of Claes and Hughes closed out their match first, topping South Carolina's Adrianna Culbert and Katie Smith 21-15, 21-15. It was the 15th straight win for Claes and Hughes and 45th of the season.

Next in the finishing order were the Trojans' Bustamante and Dennis, who defeated Julia Mannisto and Carly Schneider 21-14, 21-18. Drama built on court five as USC's Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer tussled with Franky Harrison and Jade Vitt. After taking the first set 21-17, the Trojan pair broke a 20-all tie to edge the Gamecocks with a 24-22 set win. 

Just before the Belton/Kremer match went final, Cannon and Martin officially sealed the dual for the Trojans with a near simultaneous finish, topping Macie Tendrich and Katie Zimmerman 21-14, 21-18. The final match was suspended with USC's Sophie Bukovec and Allie Wheeler and the Gamecocks' Alison Denney and Shannon Williams having split the first two sets, 21-16, 16-21.

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