All 10 USC Beach Volleyball Starters Earn AVCA Top Flight Honors
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Each of the five starting pairs for the No. 1-ranked USC beach volleyball team (33-1) was chosen to receive the AVCA Top Flight award at their individual positions on Thursday, May 5.
The Top Flight program, now in its fourth year, recognizes collegiate beach pairs that compete in at least 15 matches together at a specific flight and win at least 75 percent of those contests. This year, 62 pairs representing 35 schools—from all three NCAA divisions and the NAIA—were chosen for Top Flight honors.
USC is one of just two schools (Loyola Marymount) to have had all five starting pairs chosen. LSU also had five pairs honored, but doubled up at the No. 2 position. Pairs are selected prior to the start of the NCAA Championship through contests played on May 1.
The Top Flight award program is designed to recognize excellence in collegiate beach volleyball from all over the country and across all flights. The nature of beach volleyball dictates that each player fills an important role on the team—each pair must give their greatest effort to help the squad clinch the three wins necessary to defeat the opponent. It takes all 10 athletes performing at a high level to achieve greatness. With this in mind, the AVCA created this award to reward the hard work and consistent play of pairs at every flight. In order for a pair to be eligible for the award, two athletes must compete in at least 15 matches together and at a specific flight number. Should that pair win at least 75 percent of their matches—regardless of the overall result of the dual—those athletes achieve "Top Flight" status.
At the No. 1 position, Tina Graudina and Hailey Harward (27-1) were chosen. It is the fourth-career Top Flight honor for Graudina who earned it twice with Abril Bustamante and once with Sammy Slater.
At No. 2, Megan Kraft and Slater (23-0) were the only undefeated pair on the list. It is Slater's third-career honor. She also earned Top Flight status in 2018 with Terese Cannon.
USC's No. 3 pair of Delaynie Maple and Julia Scoles (25-1) had the second-highest win total among pairs at the third position. It is Scoles' first time chosen for Top Flight status, but Maple's second after being named for the award with Joy Dennis in 2021.
The only Trojan pair to repeat from 2021, Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse (21-4) were chosen among pairs at the No. 4 position. At No. 5, Mollie Ebertin and Sunny Villapando (17-5) were picked.
In their sixth appearance in the NCAA championship tournament, top-seeded USC defeated UT Martin in the first round on Wednesday (May 4) to advance to the double-elimination bracket set for Friday-Sunday (May 6-8). The Trojans will take on eighth-seeded No. 12 Florida Atlantic (23-10) on Friday morning (May 6) at 9 a.m. CT (7 a.m. PT) on ESPNU.
Under the direction of third-year head coach Dain Blanton, the Trojans captured the program's fourth Pac-12 championship last week (April 29) to secure the first-ever automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. USC is currently on a 32-dual win streak—the second longest consecutive run in program history—and owns seven wins over top-five opponents this spring.
For more information on the USC beach volleyball team, a complete schedule, and results, please visit USCTrojans.com/beach. Fans of the Women of Troy can follow the team on Instagram and on Twitter @USCBeach.