No. 1 USC Beach Volleyball Hosts Runners and Returns to Malibu This Week
LOS ANGELES – USC beach volleyball (8-0) hosts CSU Bakersfield (1-1) for a Thursday matinee and then returns to Malibu Canyon for a fourth matchup against long-time rival No. 8 Pepperdine (1-6) on Sunday afternoon. The Trojans have won eight straight to open the season--the third best start in school history--and have racked up six 5-0 victories. It is USC's 38th time ranked atop the AVCA poll; most all-time. Two-time All-American junior Tina Graudina and senior All-American Sammy Slater hold top court (8-0) for USC. On the bookend, sophomore twins Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse are 8-0 and on a 16-match winning streak. Trojan graduate students Hailey Harward and Julia Scoles were last week's Pac-12 Pair of the Week and are also 8-0 on the year with just one lost set. Senior co-captain Haley Hallgren and freshman Megan Kraft; and senior co-captain Joy Dennis and freshman Delaynie Maple are each 6-1 at the Nos. 3 and 4 positions respectively.
MATCH #9 • Thursday, March 18 • 12 p.m. PT
No. 1 USC (8-0) vs. CSU Bakersfield (1-1)
Merle Norman Stadium • Los Angeles, Calif.
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 7-0 (1.000)
STREAK: Won 7 • LAST 10: 7-0
LAST MEETING: W 5-0 (April 20, 2017 • MNS)
TV/STREAM: USC Live Stream (Paul Duchesne)
OPPONENT WEBSITE: GoRunners.com
MATCH #10 • Sunday, March 21 • 2 p.m. PT
No. 1 USC (8-0) at No. 8 Pepperdine (1-6)
Pepperdine Beach Volleyball Courts • Malibu, Calif.
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 18-13 (.581)
STREAK: Won 6 • LAST 10: 8-2
LAST MEETING: W 4-1 (March 7, 2021 • Malibu, Calif.)
OPPONENT WEBSITE: PepperdineWaves.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 14-5 overall.
- USC is ranked No. 1 (in a tie) in the AVCA Coaches Poll. It is the 68th time (of 68) the Trojans are ranked; USC's 67th time in the top 5. It is also the 38th time that the Women of Troy hold the nation's top ranking; most all-time.
- The Trojans are 63-9 all-time at Merle Norman Stadium.
- USC's 8-0 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' eight-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 improved to 63-9 all-time at Merle Norman Stadium and picked up their fifth and sixth 5-0 sweeps of the season in wins over No. 17 Long Beach State and No. 7 Loyola Marymount. USC won every match in straight sets against LBSU but needed won win a trio of three-setters to get the victory over the Lions. At the top spot, Tina Graudina and Sammy Slater; and at court four, senior Haley Hallgren and freshman Megan Kraft went 2-0 in straight sets. The Trojans improved to 10-5 all-time against Long Beach State and won their ninth straight. USC stayed undefeated through 21 meetings with LMU.
STARTING BLOCKS: USC's 8-0 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 83 career wins; 12th all-time at USC. Junior Tina Graudina is next with 72-career wins (all at the top court) which is 15th all-time. Senior Haley Hallgren has 71-career victories to rank next at 16th; and senior Sammy Slater has 70-career wins to rank 17th.
MALIBU COOL: The Trojans are 13-7 all-time in matches played in Malibu, Calif. Prior to the 2021 season, the Trojans were 11-7 on Zuma Beach. USC is 3-7 in 10 meetings against long-time rival Pepperdine on Malibu sand (2-7 on Zuma Beach, 1-0 at the Pepperdine Beach Volleyball Courts).