USC's Claes and Hughes claim second Pac-12 Pair of the Week award

Ed Chan

SAN FRANCISCO - USC juniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes recorded five straight-set victories at the USA Volleyball Beach Collegiate Challenge to remain undefeated this season and earn their second Pac-12 Conference Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week award.

USC’s top-court pair, which also earned the weekly honor on March 21, swept opponents in dual-match victories against Loyola Marymount (5-0) and then No. 1 Pepperdine (3-2) before rolling through three matches in the event’s Gold Bracket to claim their second pairs tournament crown of 2016 and improve to a perfect 27-0 this season. The defending AVCA pairs national champions have now won 52 consecutive matches with just six dropped sets dating to last season.

The duo’s dominance helped extend the Women of Troy’s win streak to 15 straight matches, the third-longest in program history, capped by Saturday’s triumph against Pepperdine that avenged a 3-2 loss to the Waves on the season’s opening day.

By virtue of its head-to-head win, USC (19-2) has reclaimed the top spot ahead of second-ranked Pepperdine in this week’s AVCA Top 10 national poll. The two teams will meet for a third time in a match broadcast by Pac-12 Network from USC’s Merle Norman Stadium this Thursday, April 14 at 4:30 p.m. PT.

Pac-12 Network will televise two other contests as part of the league’s 15-match schedule this week. No. 4 UCLA (14-4) will put its seven-match win streak on the line at 3 p.m. PT on Wednesday against No. 6 Long Beach State, and No. 7 ARIZONA (13-3) will host ARIZONA STATE in a showdown of Pac-12 rivals at 3 p.m. PT on Thursday.

ALSO NOMINATED: Madison Witt & McKenna Witt, ARIZ; Bianca Arellano & Whitney Follett, ASU; Sarah Cole & Mia Merino, CAL; Liz Brenner & Kacey Nady, ORE; Merete Lutz & Halland McKenna, STAN.

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
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