USC Beach Signs Bennett, Gallien, and Kirunchyk to 2021-22 Class
LOS ANGELES – The three-time national champion USC beach volleyball program signed Colby Bennett (Mater Dei HS/Tustin, Calif.), Ava Gallien (Mira Costa HS/Manhattan Beach, Calif.), and Ava Kirunchyk (Redondo Union HS/Redondo Beach, Calif.) to National Letters of Intent as part of the 2021-22 freshman class, second-year head coach Dain Blanton announced on Friday, Nov. 20.
"I'm excited to welcome these three outstanding athletes to our Trojan Family," said Blanton. "They are hard-working and accomplished individuals on the sand; and equally as strong in the classroom. As we continue to build our program and compete for championships, their contributions will be valuable to our team."
Bennett claimed first place at the January 2020 AAU Winter Series event in Hermosa Beach and the February CBVA Manhattan Beach tournament. Since the age of 14, Bennett has finished in the top five in 19 tournaments and has collected 11 gold-medal finishes at CBVA/AVP and AAU events. Academically, Bennett is a three-time honoree by the National Honor Society, the California Scholarship Federation, and the Mater Dei Honor Roll.
Gallien, the daughter of former USC women's tennis head coach Richard Gallien, claimed three gold medals to open 2020 with U18 wins at USAV, AAU, and CBVA events in Manhattan Beach. Gallien earned her AAA rating this year, owns 18 top-five finishes and has 12 gold medals to her name. She is a three-year member of the USAV Beach Junior National Team and placed first at the 2017 and 2019 USA High Performance Championships. Gallien is a three-time honor roll choice at Mira Costa HS.
Kirunchyk won the 2019 AAU U18 Southern Pacific District championship and went on to win gold medals at the ISF World Schools Championship in Italy and the U18 ISF Pan American Championships in Orlando. She received her AAA rating last year and owns 15 first-place finishes at CBVA and AAU events since 2016. Kirunchyk is an honor roll student at Redondo Union HS and helped her team win the 2019 indoor girls volleyball CIF Division I championship.
Under Blanton, the Women of Troy went 6-5 in 2020 before the season was cut short and then cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trojans were competitive despite the losses and suffered each defeat by a narrow 3-2 margin. A three-time national champion, USC finished as the NCAA runner-up in 2019 and claimed the program's third Pac-12 Championship with a dramatic 3-2 win over crosstown rival UCLA. 11 different Women of Troy have earned the program's 20 AVCA All-America certificates including returning junior Sammy Slater (2019).
For more information on the three-time national champion USC beach volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCBeach on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.