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No. 1 USC Beach Volleyball Travels California Coast for Center of Effort Challenge

Apr 13, 2022

LOS ANGELES – No. 1-ranked USC (23-1) rides a 22-dual win streak into this weekend's Center of Effort Challenge hosted by No. 13 Cal Poly (17-11) at the Swanson Beach Volleyball Complex in San Luis Obispo. The Women of Troy will put the program's third-longest string of victories on the line when they take on No. 6 Loyola Marymount (22-4) and the Mustangs on Friday (April 15); and then again when they lock horns for a pair of top-5 duals against No. 4 Florida State (24-5) and No. 3 UCLA (25-2) on Saturday (April 16). Ironically, this weekend's four opponents are the same four foes USC faced last May in Gulf Shores when it captured a fourth national championship. Last spring, the Trojans opened the NCAA tournament with a win over Cal Poly and then took down Florida State to advance to the winner's semifinal. There, USC went through LMU before defeating UCLA in the title dual.

2022 CENTER of EFFORT CHALLENGE
Swanson Beach Volleyball Complex • San Luis Obispo, Calif.

MATCH #25 • Friday, April 15 12:30 p.m. PT
No. 1 USC (23-1) vs. No. 6 Loyola Marymount (22-4)
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 23-0 (1.000)
STREAK: Won 23 • LAST 10: 10-0
LAST MEETING: W 3-1 (May 8, 2021 • Gulf Shores, Ala.)
OPPONENT WEBSITE: LMULions.com

MATCH #26 • Friday, April 15 3:30 p.m. PT
No. 1 USC (23-1) at No. 13 Cal Poly (17-11)
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 6-0 (1.000)
STREAK: Won 6 • LAST 10: 6-0
LAST MEETING: W 3-0 (May 7, 2021 • Gulf Shores, Ala.)
OPPONENT WEBSITE: GoPoly.com

MATCH #27 • Saturday, April 16 3 p.m. PT
No. 1 USC (23-1) vs. No. 4 Florida State (24-5)
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 15-5 (.750)
STREAK: Won 2 • LAST 10: 8-2
LAST MEETING: W 3-1 (March 12, 2022 • DeLand, Fla.)
OPPONENT WEBSITE: Seminoles.com

MATCH #28 • Saturday, April 16 5:50 p.m. PT
No. 1 USC (23-1) vs. No. 3 UCLA (25-2)
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads, 16-14 (.533)
STREAK: Lost 1 • LAST 10: 4-6
LAST MEETING: L 2-3 (March 5, 2022 • Los Angeles, Calif.)
OPPONENT WEBSITE: UCLABruins.com

BARE E-SAND-SHELLS

  • Defending champion USC owns four national championships including the first NCAA title in 2016 (AVCA '15, NCAA '17, '21).
  • The Women of Troy also own three Pac-12 crowns (2016, '17, '19).
  • USC is 59-10 under third-year head coach Dain Blanton.
  • The Trojans have logged 5-0 wins 15 times this spring (127 all-time). 
  • USC is ranked No. 1 in both the AVCA and the CBVB.com Poll. It is the 84th time (of 84) the Trojans are ranked by the AVCA; USC's 83rd time in the top 5. The Trojans have also held the No. 1 ranking a record 47 times.
  • The Trojans' 22-dual winning streak is the third longest in program history.
  • The four opponents USC will face in San Luis Obispo are the same four it faced in Gulf Shores to win the 2021 NCAA title only in this order: CP, FSU, LMU, UCLA.
  • This visit marks the Trojans' second visit to San Luis Obispo. Last year, the Women of Troy went 4-0 in the Center of Effort Challenge.
  • USC has celebrated 13 AVCA All-Americans (24 certificates). Four All-Americans return in 2022: Sammy Slater, Tina Graudina, Julia Scoles, and Megan Kraft.

THE CHAMP IS HERE: USC is the defending NCAA champion. The Trojans captured the program's third NCAA title and fourth national crown in 2021. USC won the final AVCA championship in 2015 and owns the first two NCAA titles (2016, '17) in addition to last year's championship. The Women of Troy have also claimed three Pac-12 championships (2016, '17, '19).
 
LAST TIME OUT: USC collected four wins and finished 19-1 in individual matches at the Pac-12 North Invitational. The Trojans collected sweeps over Stanford, Arizona, and Oregon, and took down California by a 4-1 count to run their win streak to 22 consecutive duals. USC's top three pairs continued to streak as well as Tina Graudina and Hailey Harward improved to 20-1 with a 19-match win streak. The Trojans' No. 2 pair of Megan Kraft and Sammy Slater won its 16th straight match to stay undefeated at 16-0; and No. 3 duo Delaynie Maple and Julia Scoles extended their win streak to 24 matches and are also unbeaten at 24-0. Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse also went 4-0 to streak to seven straight wins and crossed the 50-win plateau as a pair. The Trojans' No. 5 tandem of Mollie Ebertin and Sunny Villapando won four as well and have won five in a row to improve to 18-2 overall.
 
CENTURY CITY: Two Trojans crossed the 100-career wins plateau this season. Tina Graudina became the program's 10th player to win 100 matches on March 16 during USC's victory over Florida International. She is now 111-9 in her four-year collegiate career and ranks eighth in USC history. Sammy Slater is right on Graudina's heels and collected her 100th win against Arizona State on March 26. Slater now has 108-career wins, which ranks ninth all-time. 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).
 
IN THE LONG RUN: The Trojans' current 22-match winning streak is the team's third-longest streak of victories and marks the eighth time that USC has put together a double-digit win streak. Last season, the Women of Troy had two winning streaks of 13 and 12 matches. The program record is 62 consecutive wins spanning two seasons from March 11, 2016, to April 27, 2017.
 
HOPE LIVES HERE: Graduate Julia Scoles was chosen as one of two inaugural winners of the CalHOPE Courage Award on March 1. The award—presented by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), in association with The Associated Press (AP) and CalHOPE—recognizes inspiring student-athletes at California colleges and universities who have demonstrated courage in the face of adversity. Scoles was chosen based on her testimony of how her deep-seated faith and relationship with Christ has helped her find the courage to share about her journey through athletics and dealing with concussions and mental health issues that stem from injuries. For more info and resources, visit CalHOPE.org.