No. 1 USC Beach Volleyball Battles No. 2 Bruins in Regular-Season Finale
LOS ANGELES – The No. 1-ranked USC beach volleyball (22-2) wraps the regular season with a 1-vs-2 clash at crosstown rival No. 2 UCLA (24-2) on Thursday, April 22. First serve is set for 3 p.m. PT at Mapes Beach. It is the third meeting of the season between the two intercity rivals. The Women of Troy won the first by a 5-0 count on March 4 at Merle Norman Stadium; and took the second, 3-2, at a neutral location last week (April 17) in San Luis Obispo. USC seeks its first road win against the Bruins. The Trojans are 0-3 as the visitor with two 3-2 decisions and a 4-1 loss in 2019. USC is on a nine-dual winning streak since dropping two matches on April 3-4. Prior to that, the Trojans had won 13 straight to open the season. USC is 9-8 in 17 1-vs-2 duals all-time and is 6-5 when the Trojans are ranked No. 1.
MATCH #25 • Thursday, April 22 • 3 p.m. PT
No. 1 USC (22-2) at No. 2 UCLA (24-2)
Mapes Beach • Los Angeles, Calif.
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 14-11 (.560)
STREAK: Won 2 • LAST 10: 5-5
LAST MEETING: W 3-2 (Apr. 17, 2021 • San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
TV/STREAM: UCLA Pac-12+ Live Stream
OPPONENT WEBSITE: UCLABruins.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 28-7 overall.
- USC is ranked No. 1 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. It is the 73rd time (of 73) the Trojans are ranked; USC's 72nd time in the top 5. It is also the 41st time that the Women of Troy hold the nation's top ranking; most all-time.
- The Trojans are 0-3 in road matches against crosstown rival UCLA. The Bruins won, 3-2 in 2018 and 2020; and took a 4-1 victory in 2019.
- USC pairs have won Pac-12 Pair of the Week laurels five times this spring.
- Sr. Joy Dennis has 98 career wins to rank 10th all-time among USC players.
- So. twin sisters Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse produced the program's third-longest winning streak by a pair having won 26 straight matches between March 1, 2020 and April 10, 2021. Only streaks of 28 and 103 wins are longer.
- 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 extended to a nine-dual winning streak on a 4-0 weekend at the Center of Effort Challenge in San Luis Obispo. USC defeated No. 5 Loyola Marymount for the 22nd time in as many meetings in a 4-1 victory. The Trojans then collected their 13th and 14th clean 5-0 sweeps of the season with wins over No. 6 tournament host Cal Poly and No. 8 Grand Canyon. In the tourney finale, USC defeated then top-ranked UCLA, 3-2.
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 98 career wins to rank 10th all-time. Junior Tina Graudina is next with 83-career wins which is 14th all-time. Senior Sammy Slater also has 83-career wins and senior Haley Hallgren has 80-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 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 22 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. Graudina earned her third honor of the season paired with freshman Megan Kraft on April 13. 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.
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.
GOT FIVE ON IT: The Trojans have defeated opponents by a 5-0 count 14 times this season. In 2016, the Women of Troy posted 17 clean 5-0 wins and had 22 sweep victories including 3-0 wins. USC is 112-2 all-time in 5-0 results (34-0 at home; 14-2 on the road; 64-0 at neutral locations).
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 73 weeks. USC has also been ranked in the top five of the poll 72 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 41 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 108-11 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.