NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships: USC tops Pepperdine for back-to-back titles

NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship Finals: No. 1 Seed USC 3, No. 3 Seed Pepperdine 2

Terese Cannon and Nicolette Martin edged out Skylar Caputo and Heidi Dyer 15-13 in the third set to lift USC to a 3-2 win over Pepperdine in the 2017 NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship finals, giving the Trojans their second consecutive NCAA title and third straight national championship. The Trojans overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Waves in a heart-stopping national championship match that saw the final three pairs battles go to a decisive third set.

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With the championship match split into two flights (pairs four and five in the first, the first three pairs in the second), Pepperdine took a 1-0 lead from a somewhat unlikely source. Fewer than 24 hours after dropping a 21-12, 22-20 decision to Joy Dennis and Abril Bustamante, Pepperdine's Deahna Kraft and Anika Wilson took out Dennis and Bustamante 21-14, 21-17 to get the WCC champs on the board first. However, that lead wouldn't last for long, as Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer swept Nikki Lyons and Sarah Seiber 21-18, 21-15 to level things up at 1-1 heading into the second flight.

Pepperdine took two of the three first sets of the second flight, with USC's Nicolette Martin serving three aces in a row to give her and and Terese Cannon the only Trojans' set lead on court three over Skylar Caputo and Heidi Dyer. Pac-12 Pairs champs Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes, losing their first set in nearly a month in the first set against Delaney Knudsen and Madalyn Roh, dominated the end of the second set to force a third in large thanks to Claes' inspired play after a double-touch call went against her, and all three courts went to a third set in the second flight.

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Nail-biters everywhere, Corinne Quiggle and former Stanford All-American Brittany Howard erased a late two-point deficit to take out Sophie Bukovec and Allie Wheeler 21-18, 16-21, 15-13 to put the Waves up 2-1, but Claes and Hughes answered right back on court one with a 15-10 third-set triumph to send us all over to court three for the decider between Cannon/Martin and Caputo/Dyer. Cannon and Martin held a slight lead most of the third set and clinched it on this roll shot:

USC players will try to collect more hardware next weekend at the USAV Beach Collegiate Pairs Championship in Manhattan Beach, Calif.