No. 1 USC Beach Volleyball Hosts LMU and Long Beach State This Week
LOS ANGELES – The USC beach volleyball team (6-0) returned to the top of the AVCA Coaches Poll this week and will host No. 17 Long Beach State (2-4) and No. 7 Loyola Marymount (7-1) at Merle Norman Stadium on Saturday, March 13.
The Women of Troy have won six straight duals to open the season; the third best start in program history. Ranked No. 1 for the first time since April 29, 2019, entering that year's NCAA championship, the Trojans have racked up four 5-0 victories this spring. The two wins that were not clean sweeps were 4-1 victories. It is USC's 37th time ranked atop the AVCA poll, which is the most all-time.
Two-time AVCA All-American junior Tina Graudina and All-American Sammy Slater hold top court (6-0) for the Trojans. On the bookend, sophomores Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse are also 6-0 on a 14-match winning streak.
MATCH #7 • Saturday, March 13 • 12:15 p.m. PT
No. 1 USC (6-0) vs. No. 17 Long Beach State (2-4)
Merle Norman Stadium • Los Angeles, Calif.
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 9-5 (.643)
STREAK: Won 8 • LAST 10: 8-2
LAST MEETING: W 5-0 (March 13, 2021 • Malibu, Calif.)
OPPONENT WEBSITE: LongBeachState.com
MATCH #8 • Saturday, March 13 • 2:30 p.m. PT
No. 1 USC (6-0) vs. No. 7 Loyola Marymount (7-1)
Merle Norman Stadium • Los Angeles, Calif.
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 20-0 (1.000)
STREAK: Won 20 • LAST 10: 10-0
LAST MEETING: W 4-1 (March 5, 2020 • MNS)
OPPONENT WEBSITE: LMULions.com
- USC owns three beach volleyball national championships including the first-ever NCAA title in 2016 (AVCA '15, NCAA '17).
- The Trojans have won three Pac-12 crowns (2016, '17, '19).
- Second-year head coach Dain Blanton took the helm for the defending Pac-12 champions in July 2019 and is 12-5 overall.
- USC is ranked No. 1 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. It is the 67th time (of 67) that the Trojans are ranked; USC's 66th time ranked in the top 5. It is also the 37th time that the Women of Troy hold the nation's top ranking; most all-time.
- The Trojans are 61-9 all-time at Merle Norman Stadium.
- USC's 6-0 mark is the third best start in program history. The Trojans went 32-0 to begin 2017 (finished 38-1) and were 28-0 in 2015; both championship seasons.
- The Trojans' six-match winning streak is their longest since the team won 12 consecutive duals from April 6-27, 2019.
- Women of Troy have received AVCA All-America notice 20 times. The Trojans return All-American Sr. Sammy Slater and All-American Jr. Tina Graudina.
LAST TIME OUT: The Trojans collected four wins over top-20 ranked opponents and picked up three 5-0 sweeps. USC defeated No. 6 Cal Poly, 5-0, at home and then earned the first 5-0 victory over No. 4 UCLA since the Bruins were swept by Hawai'i early in 2018. USC then went to Malibu and got a fourth-straight 5-0 win by taking down No. 17-ranked Long Beach State. In the third meeting between the Trojans and longtime rival Pepperdine, USC earned another 4-1 win to run its winning streak to six duals. Sophomores Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse extended their winning streak to 14 straight while grads Hailey Harward and Julia Scoles won their sixth straight without dropping a set.
STARTING BLOCKS: USC's 6-0 start to begin the 2021 season is the program's third best start all-time. The Women of Troy went 32-0 to open the 2017 campaign and finished with a single loss (38-1) en route to winning the second of back-to-back NCAA titles. The Trojans were 28-0 to open (and close) the 2015 season when they won the school's first beach volleyball title in the AVCA championship.
CLOSING COSTS: Despite most of the Trojans' pairs playing together for the first time, several USC players are closing in on the program's top 10 for individual career victories. Graduate Joy Dennis leads that group with 81 career wins; tied for 12th all-time at USC with Bria Russ (2013-15). Junior Tina Graudina is next with 70-career wins (all at the top court) which is 15th all-time. Senior Haley Hallgren has 69-career victories to rank next at 16th; and senior Sammy Slater has 68-career wins to ranks 17th.
NOTE: All home USC beach volleyball competitions at Merle Norman Stadium will be conducted in accordance with the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee health and safety recommendations and guidelines, available at Pac-12.com/health.
For more information on the USC beach volleyball team, a complete schedule, and results, please visit USCTrojans.com/beach. Fans of the Women of Troy can follow the team on Instagram and on Twitter @USCBeach.