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No. 1 USC Beach Volleyball Travels To Tucson For Pac-12 South Invitational

Mar 23, 2021

Follow: Live Stats | USC Beach Notebook (Mar. 23) | Watch: Pac-12 Networks

LOS ANGELES – The USC beach volleyball team heads to the desert this weekend for the Pac-12 South Invitational hosted by Arizona at Bear Down Beach. The No. 1-ranked Women of Troy (10-0) will take on Oregon (2-2) at 12:45 p.m. PT and Utah (2-8) at 7 p.m. on Saturday (March 27) with both contests scheduled to be shown live on the Pac-12 Networks. The Trojans have won 10 straight duals to open the season--the third best start in school history--and have racked up seven 5-0 victories. It is USC's 39th time ranked atop the AVCA poll; most all-time. Two Trojan pairs have 10-0 records to match the team's overall mark including the duo of two-time All-American junior Tina Graudina and senior All-American Sammy Slater at the No. 1 position. On the bookend, sophomore twins Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse are 10-0 and on an 18-match winning streak.

MATCH #11 • Saturday, March 27 12:45 p.m. PT
No. 1 USC (10-0) vs. Oregon (2-2)
Bear Down Beach • Tucson, Ariz.
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 4-0 (1.000)
STREAK: Won 4 • LAST 10: 4-0
LAST MEETING: W 5-0 (Mar. 3, 2019 • Tucson, Ariz.)
TV/STREAM: Pac-12 Network
OPPONENT WEBSITE: GoDucks.com

MATCH #12 • Saturday, March 27 7 p.m. PT
No. 1 USC (10-0) vs. Utah (2-8)
Bear Down Beach • Tucson, Ariz.
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 3-0 (1.000)
STREAK: Won 3 • LAST 10: 3-0
LAST MEETING: W 5-0 (Mar. 8, 2020 • Santa Monica, Calif.)
TV/STREAM: Pac-12 Network
OPPONENT WEBSITE: UtahUtes.com

BARE E-SAND-SHELLS

  • 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 16-5 overall.
  • USC is ranked No. 1 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. It is the 69th time (of 69) the Trojans are ranked; USC's 68th time in the top 5. It is also the 39th time that the Women of Troy hold the nation's top ranking; most all-time.
  • The Trojans are 19-1 all-time in the state of Arizona with the lone loss to UCLA in the 2017 Pac-12 Championship hosted by Arizona in Tucson.
  • USC's 10-0 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.
  • USC's 10-match run equals the sixth-longest winning streak in program history.
  • Women of Troy have received AVCA All-America notice 20 times. USC returns All-Americans Sammy Slater and Tina Graudina to the lineup this spring.

LAST TIME OUT: The Trojans improved to 64-9 all-time at Merle Norman Stadium and picked up their seventh 5-0 sweep with a win over CSU Bakersfield. The Runners brought the return of USC All-American Stevi Robinson who now serves as an assistant coach at Bakersfield. The Women of Troy didn't drop a single set in the win. The Trojans wrapped the week with a fourth match against longtime rival Pepperdine in the hills of Malibu. Facing a different lineup, USC came away with another 4-1 victory over the Waves to improve to 19-13 all-time against Pepperdine and extend to a seven-match winning streak. Sophomore twins Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse earned straight-set wins over the week to stay undefeated (10-0) and extend to an 18-match winning streak.
 
STARTING BLOCKS: USC's 10-0 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 85 career wins; 12th all-time at USC. Junior Tina Graudina is next with 74-career wins (all at the top court) which is 15th all-time. Senior Haley Hallgren has 73-career victories to rank next at 16th; and senior Sammy Slaterhas 72-career wins to rank 17th.
 
CENTURY CITY: USC has had eight different players reach the 100-career win mark. Four-time All-American Sara Hughes leads all players with 190-career victories. Kelly Claes (180), Nicolette Martin (141), and Allie Wheeler (130), comprise an elite group of four Women of Troy to have recorded over 125 wins. Jenna Belton finished with 124 wins and is followed by Abril Bustamante (121) and Terese Cannon (112). Jo Kremer had 103-career victories.
 
PAIR'S LAIR: Six different USC pairs have recorded 50 or more victories together. Atop that list is the two-time Pac-12 Champion duo of Kelly Claesand Sara Hughes, which won 147 matches together. Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler (91 wins) stands next in line and is followed by the tandem of Sophie Bukovec and Alexa Strange with 66 wins. In just two seasons, Abril Bustamante and Tina Graudina produced 64 wins. Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer stayed together for 54 wins and last season, Terese Cannon and Sammy Slater finished with 50 wins.
 
POW-WOW: USC pairs have won the Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week award a league-best 20 times since its inception in 2016. On March 5, sophomores Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse won the first award of 2021 (their first-career honor) and became only the third No. 5 pair ever to be chosen for the league's weekly award. Hailey Harward and Julia Scoles were honored on March 10; and the Trojans' No. 1 pair of All-Americans Tina Graudina and Sammy Slater were chosen March 18. All-Americans Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes are owners of a school-record five Pac-12 POW awards. Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer were the first-ever No. 5 pair to win the honor on March 21, 2017. USC's Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler have the great distinction of being the first-ever Pac-12 Pair of the Week honorees; chosen from the No. 3 position as juniors on March 8, 2016.
 
SANDCASTLE: The Women of Troy are 64-9 (.877) at Merle Norman Stadium since it opened in 2013. The Trojans won 19 straight home matches between 2014 and 2016; and went 10-0 in 2015 and 8-0 in 2014 on MNS sand. USC's later 16-match winning streak was snapped on Feb. 28, 2018, when UCLA and Pepperdine claimed back-to-back 3-2 wins over the Trojans. Only four teams have ever come to Merle Norman Stadium and beaten the Women of Troy: Pepperdine (3), UCLA (3), Florida State (2), and Long Beach State (1).
 
LET'S GO STREAKING: USC set a new program record to close the 2016 season as winners of 30 consecutive dual matches. That streak carried into the 2017 campaign and reached 62 before a loss on April 28 in the 2017 Pac-12 Championship. The 62 victories rank sixth among longest streaks in the history of USC athletics. All-Americans Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes won 103 straight matches as a pair between April 2, 2015 and April 8, 2017. During that streak, the two Trojans lost just seven sets (only one in 2016 and one in 2017). Sophomore twins Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse are currently on an 18-match winning streak, which is the fifth-longest ever by a USC pair.
 
POLL POSITION: USC was ranked No. 4 in the 2021 AVCA Coaches Top 20 preseason poll and ascended to take the No. 1 spot in the March 9th poll. The Women of Troy have been ranked in every AVCA poll for a total of 69 weeks. USC has also been ranked in the top five of the poll 68 times. The Trojans held that top-five distinction for 63 consecutive weeks from its inception until March 2, 2020. USC first seized the top spot in both polls on March 23, 2015, following a victory over then No. 1-ranked Hawai'i on the road and held the ranking for the rest of 2015. USC has been ranked No. 1 in 39 AVCA polls, the most all-time. The Trojans, Pepperdine, Hawai'i, UCLA, LSU, and Florida State are the only six teams ever to hold the top spot in the poll. USC is 104-9 all-time when ranked No. 1. The Trojans received their first-ever No. 1 ranking in 2014 and maintained the position for much of the season, before the they fell to eventual AVCA champion Pepperdine in the national semifinals.