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USC Athletics | May 1, 2016

USC edges UCLA to advance to Pac-12 final

The top-seeded and No. 1-ranked USC beach volleyball team (29-2) fought off second-seeded No. 4 UCLA (19-5) to get a 3-2 victory in the winner’s bracket semifinal of the inaugural Pac-12 Championships at Merle Norman Stadium on Sunday, May 1. The Women of Troy advance to the first-ever Pac-12 title match set for 4 p.m. PT later today. The win was the Trojans’ 25th straight.

USC fired the first shot of the dual with a win at court five. Sophomore Jo Kremer and senior Zoe Nightingale extended their winning streak to 12 straight matches on a 21-13, 23-21 win over Julie Consani and Laurel Weaver. In a hotly contested three-set match, the Bruins’ Zana Muno and Jessyka Ngauamo upended sophomore Jenna Belton and freshman Abril Bustamante, 18-21, 22-20, 15-11. The point equalized the dual and was the first-ever dual point scored against USC in five all-time meetings.

UCLA broke the tie and went ahead, 2-1, with a win at court three. Izzy Carey and Elise Zappia won, 21-18, in the first set, and then pulled away to get  a 21-13 win in the second over juniors Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler. Moments later, juniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes completed a 21-17, 21-19 win over Megan and Nicole McNamara at the top court. It was the 68th straight victory for Claes and Hughes and moved them to 43-0 overall this season.

With the dual tied up at two all, all eyes were on court two where junior Sophie Bukovec and senior Alexa Strange took a 21-19 win over Ivey Schmitt and Kamila Tan in the first set. Tied at 14, Bukovec and Strange put up a 7-2 run to close out the set, 21-16, and claimed the final dual point for the Trojans.

The Bruins’ loss sends them to the contender’s bracket where they must meet the winner of a match between third-seeded Arizona (17-4) and seventh-seeded upstart Washington (5-5) at 1 p.m. PT. For complete scores and information on the inaugural Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Championship, please visit Pac-12.com.

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