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No. 4 USC Beach Volleyball Collects Two Wins on Opening Day

Feb 25, 2021

LOS ANGELES – The fourth-ranked USC beach volleyball team (2-0) earned two victories (4-1 and 5-0) over No. 10 Pepperdine (0-2) at Merle Norman Stadium to open the 2021 season on Thursday, Feb. 25.
 
It had been 350 days since the Women of Troy had played a dual match following last March's shutdown due to the COVID-19 world pandemic, but the Trojans locked in to earn their 10th straight win in a season opener and are now 2-0 in such matches under second-year head coach Dain Blanton.

The Trojans improved to 17-13 in 30 all-time meetings against the Waves and to 7-3 in home matches. The 5-0 sweep of the Waves was the program's 99th all-time 5-0 victory but marked only the first time the Women of Troy had ever done it against Pepperdine. It was also the first time that either team in 30 matchups had ever won the dual without dropping a single set in any individual match.
 
At the top court, the return of All-American junior Tina Graudina yielded two wins. Paired with All-American senior Sammy Slater, the newly-formed duo defeated Brook Bauer and Carly Skjodt in three sets, 21-19, 18-21, 15-10, and then in straight sets, 21-18, 21-16. The second time around, the Trojans delivered the clinching point in the dual.
 
Resuming where they had left off in 2020, twin sophomores Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse won their ninth and 10th straight matches. They got their first on a 21-14, 21-14 win over Katie Gavin and Gracie Pederson and then continued to roll on court five with a 21-13, 21-12 win over Cameron Baklenko and Kristine Briede.
 
At the No. 2 position, graduate Trojans Hailey Harward and Julia Scoles went 2-0 to start their new collegiate partnership with a 21-14, 21-17 win over Melanie Paul and Simone Priebe in the first match and a 21-15, 21-19 win over Alexis Filippone and Sutton Mactavish in the second.
 
On court three, senior Haley Hallgren paired with freshman Megan Kraft to get a 21-16, 21-12 win over Filippone and Mactavish in the first dual. Hallgren later paired with senior Joy Dennis to claim a 21-14, 21-19 win over Paul and Priebe at the same spot. Dennis and freshman Delaynie Maple dropped a tough three-setter on court four to Jordan Benoit and Mary Sinclair, 19-21, 21-18, 17-15, in the first dual. Kraft and Maple teamed up at court four in the second dual to get a 21-12, 21-15 win over Benoit-Sinclair.
 
Women of Troy also picked up straight-set wins on the exhibition court, which does not count towards the dual score. There, freshman Olivia Bakos and junior Mollie Ebertin won in the first dual; and then sophomore Harper Hallgren and senior Maja Kaiser won in the second.
 
The Trojans host a three-team date at Merle Norman Stadium next Thursday (March 4). No. 6 Cal Poly and No. 2 UCLA meet to open the day at 10 a.m. PT. Then the Trojans play the Mustangs at 12:15 p.m. before closing the day with a third dual at 2:30 p.m. against the crosstown rival Bruins.
 
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.
 
No. 4 USC def. No. 10 Pepperdine, 4-1
Merle Norman Stadium • Los Angeles, Calif.
Thursday, February 25, 2021
RECORDS: USC (1-0), Pepperdine (0-1)
1. Tina GRAUDINA/Sammy SLATER (USC) def. Brook BAUER/Carly SKJODT (PEPP); 21-19, 18-21, 15-10 
2. Hailey HARWARD/Julia SCOLES (USC) def. Melanie PAUL/Simone PRIEBE (PEPP); 21-14, 21-17
3. Haley HALLGREN/Megan KRAFT (USC) def. Alexis FILIPPONE/Sutton MACTAVISH (PEPP); 21-16, 21-12 
4. Jordan BENOIT/Mary SINCLAIR (PEPP) def. Joy DENNIS/Delaynie MAPLE (USC); 19-21, 21-18, 17-15
5. Audrey NOURSE/Nicole NOURSE (USC) def. Katie GAVIN/Gracie PEDERSON (PEPP); 21-14, 21-14
Exh. Olivia BAKOS/Mollie EBERTIN (USC) def. Cameron BAKLENKO/Kristine BRIEDE (PEPP); 25-23, 21-12
Order of finish: 5, 4, 3, 2*, 1
 
No. 4 USC def. No. 10 Pepperdine, 5-0
Merle Norman Stadium • Los Angeles, Calif.
Thursday, February 25, 2021
RECORDS: USC (2-0), Pepperdine (0-2)                 
1. Tina GRAUDINA/Sammy SLATER (USC) def. Brook BAUER/Carly SKJODT (PEPP); 21-18, 21-16
2. Hailey HARWARD/Julia SCOLES (USC) def. Alexis FILIPPONE/Sutton MACTAVISH (PEPP); 21-15, 21-19
3. Joy DENNIS/Haley HALLGREN (USC) def. Melanie PAUL/Simone PRIEBE (PEPP); 21-14, 21-19
4. Megan KRAFT/Delaynie MAPLE (USC) def. Jordan BENOIT/Mary SINCLAIR (PEPP); 21-12, 21-15
5. Audrey NOURSE/Nicole NOURSE (USC) def. Cameron BAKLENKO/Kristine BRIEDE (PEPP); 21-13, 21-12
Exh. Harper HALLGREN/Maja KAISER (USC) def. Katie GAVIN/Gracie PEDERSON (PEPP); 21-15, 21-15 
Order of finish: 4, 5, 1*, 3, 2