No. 2 USC Beach Volleyball Returns to Arizona For Pac-12 North Invitational
LOS ANGELES – The No. 2-ranked USC beach volleyball team (14-2) makes its second trek into the desert and will take on four league opponents in the Pac-12 North Invitational hosted by Arizona State at the Grand Canyon Beach Volleyball Stadium. The Trojans meet No. 11 California (8-5), Washington (1-3), No. 7 Stanford (14-3), and Arizona State (4-7) for duals on Saturday and Sunday (April 10-11). The Women of Troy have faces Pac-12 foes only three other times this season and are 3-0 with 5-0 wins over UCLA, Oregon, and Utah, in those contests. The weekend also marks the beginning of the final three weeks of the regular season, all away from home for the Trojans.
PAC-12 North Invitational
GCU Beach Volleyball Stadium • Phoenix, Ariz.
MATCH #17 • Saturday, April 10 • 9 a.m. PT
No. 2 USC (14-2) vs. No. 11 California (8-5)
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 8-2 (.800)
STREAK: Lost 1 • LAST 10: 8-2
LAST MEETING: L 3-2 (Mar. 8, 2020 • Los Angeles, Calif.)
MATCH #18 • Saturday, April 10 • 12:45 p.m. PT
No. 2 USC (14-2) vs. Washington (1-3)
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 5-0 (1.000)
STREAK: Won 5 • LAST 10: 5-0
LAST MEETING: W 3-0 (April 25, 2019 • MNS)
MATCH #19 • Sunday, April 11 • 11:30 a.m. PT
No. 2 USC (14-2) vs. No. 7 Stanford (14-3)
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 6-0 (1.000)
STREAK: Won 6 • LAST 10: 6-0
LAST MEETING: W 4-1 (Mar. 7, 2020 • Santa Monica, Calif.)
MATCH #20 • Sunday, April 11 • 4:30 p.m. PT
No. 2 USC (14-2) vs. Arizona State (4-7)
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 12-0 (1.000)
STREAK: Won 12 • LAST 10: 10-0
LAST MEETING: W 3-0 (April 26, 2019 • MNS)
- 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 20-7 overall.
- The Trojans are 21-1 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 is ranked No. 2 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. It is the 71st time (of 71) the Trojans are ranked; USC's 70th time in the top 5.
- USC has played Pac-12 foes only three other times this season and is 3-0 in those contests with 5-0 wins over UCLA, Oregon, and Utah.
- 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.
- The 24-match winning streak sophomore twins Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse are on is the fourth longest by a USC pair in program history. The sisters' 25 wins also ranks 17th (tie) all-time in school history.
- Sr. Joy Dennis has 90 career wins to rank 12th all-time among USC players. She is eight wins from crossing into the program's all-time top 10.
LAST TIME OUT: The Trojans extended their winning streak to 13 duals before sustaining the first two losses of the season against No. 2 Florida State and No. 3 LSU. USC was without graduate Julia Scoles, which caused a lineup shuffle that had two Trojan pairs playing together for the first time this spring. The Women of Troy earned a 4-1 win over the Seminoles to open the weekend but fell to FSU and LSU in narrow 3-2 losses before finishing with a 3-2 win over the Tigers. Sophomore twins Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse were unfazed and completed the weekend with a 4-0 record to extend their winning streak to 24 consecutive matches.
STARTING BLOCKS: USC's 13-0 start to begin the 2021 season was 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 90 career wins; 12th all-time at USC. Junior Tina Graudina is next with 76-career wins (all at the top court) which is 15th all-time. Senior Sammy Slater is next with 75-career wins and senior Haley Hallgren has 74-career victories.
POW-WOW: USC pairs have won the Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week award a league-best 21 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 and March 24. 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 andAllie 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.
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 a 24-match winning streak, which is the fourth-longest ever by a USC pair.
1-2 PUNCH: The Trojans have played in 17 1v2 matchups and are 9-8 all-time in such duals; 1-1 in 2021. In 2019, USC was part of 1v2 matches six times and went 3-3. USC went 3-1 in 2016 but didn't play any such matches in 2015. In three 1-vs-2 duals in 2014, USC went 1-2. Overall, in these duals, USC is 6-5 when ranked No. 1 and 3-3 when ranked No. 2.