NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships: USC on to finals, UCLA eliminated
USC is on to the national championship match for the second straight season, while UCLA lost to Florida State 3-1 to end its run at the 2017 NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships Saturday in Gulf Shores, Alabama. USC will play either Pepperdine, Florida State or Hawai'i in the finals Sunday at 11 a.m. PT/12 p.m. MT on TBS.
Match 11: No. 1 seed USC – 3, No. 3 seed Pepperdine – 0
USC made quick work of Pepperdine, sweeping the Waves in about 40 minutes. As a result, the Trojans are on to the national championship match for a chance to defend their 2016 NCAA title.
The first sets were mostly competitive throughout all five courts, with USC pairs taking three of the five first sets, but the Trojans quickly blew things open from there. Terese Cannon and Nicolette Martin put the Trojans on the board with a 21-16, 21-14 triumph over Skylar Caputo and Heidi Dyer on court three. Almost immediately after that, Abril Bustamante and Joy Dennis came through with a 21-12, 22-20 win over Pepperdine's Deahna Kraft and Anika Wilson.
[Related video: USC's Sara Hughes & Kelly Claes on getting back to NCAA title match]
Leading 2-0, USC got the clincher on this point from Pac-12 pairs champs Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes:
— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) May 6, 2017
Now the Trojans can kick back for the rest of the day and watch Hawai'i, Florida State and Pepperdine sweat it out over the rest of Saturday and Sunday morning. While we're here, shout out to former Stanford volleyball indoor All-American Brittany Howard, who is a grad transfer playing for Pepperdine.
Match 9: No. 4 seed Florida State – 3, No. 2 seed UCLA – 1
Despite dealing the first blow to the Seminoles, UCLA's season came to an end after dropping a 3-1 decision to Florida State Saturday afternoon. The Bruins wrap up their season at 30-6, while the 'Noles advance in the elimination bracket to meet the winner of LSU-Hawai'i for a chance to guarantee themselves a top-3 finish.
Things looked good early on with Torrey Van Winden and Elise Zappia putting the Bruins up 1-0 after making quick work of Sierra Sanchez and Macy Jerger 21-13, 21-13, but Florida State had set leads on three of the remaining four courts by the time court three went the way of UCLA. The Seminoles' duo of Katie Horton and Francesca Goncalves were close to wrapping things up on court four, which they eventually did by taking down Izzy Carey and Jordan Anderson 21-18, 21-18 to tie the match up at 1-1.
Things were pretty even by this point, with each of the remaining three courts going to a third set, but UCLA's Kamila Tan and Madi Yeomans dropped their decisive third 15-10 to Victoria Paranagua and Vanessa Freira on court two to put the 'Noles one match away from advancing. UCLA did have third-set leads on the remaining two courts, but twins Nicole and Megan McNamara eventually dropped a hard-fought third set, 17-15, to Brooke Kuhlman and Leigh Andrew to lose the match.
Noles win!!!! pic.twitter.com/8AznEAdiJ0
— FSU Beach Volleyball (@FSU_BeachVB) May 6, 2017
Had the McNamara twins found a way to pull it out, UCLA probably would have advanced, as Savvy Simo and Lily Justine were at matchpoint with a 14-11 lead in the third set of their court-five battle with Hailey Luke and Eva Torruella.
The Trojans play Pepperdine at 1 p.m. PT/2 p.m. MT on truTV, with the winner advancing to the finals and the loser facing the winner of Florida State/LSU/Hawai'i Sunday to get into the finals.
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