GULF SHORES, Ala. — No. 1-ranked and top-seeded USC (37-1) earned a 3-0 sweep of third-seeded Pepperdine (26-4) in the winner’s semifinal of the 2017 NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship on Saturday. The Women of Troy will have a chance to defend their 2016 NCAA crown in the championship match set for 2 p.m. ET on Sunday on TBS.
The Trojans’ win is their fifth straight over the Waves and pushes USC’s streak of consecutive wins in Gulf Shores to 11. The Women of Troy improve to 9-8 all-time against the Waves and now hold winning records against all all-time opponents. USC has now also won 99 of its last 102 duals and increases its single-season program record for wins to 37.
Despite the fact that the Women of Troy only won first sets on three of five courts, USC had seized control in the two matches where it had dropped first sets and stopped the dual as the first-set winners completed straight-set victories to force the 3-0 decision. At the No. 3 position, junior Terese Cannon and senior Nicolette Martin had to fight off a late charge from Skylar Caputo and Heidi Dyer in the first set, but won 21-16. Cannon and Martin built a 7-0 lead in the second and cruised to a 21-14 win for the first point of the dual.
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On court four, sophomore Abril Bustamante and freshman Joy Dennis were efficient in a 21-12 first-set win over Deahna Kraft and Anika Wilson, but they had to come back from a 20-18 deficit to seal a 22-20 win and put up a second dual point for the Women of Troy. At the top court, seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes went toe-to-toe with Delaney Knudsen and Madalyn Roh, but claimed a 21-18 win in the first set. A different story unfolded in the second frame, and Claes-Hughes walked away with a 21-9 win to clinch the dual.
At court two, seniors Sophie Bukovec and Allie Wheeler found themselves on the short end of a 28-26 first-set loss to Brittany Howard and Corinne Quiggle, but led the Waves duo 10-4 in the second when play was halted. At the bottom court, juniors Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer fell 23-21 to Nikki Lyons and Sarah Seiber in the first but were up 15-12 when the dual was clinched.
The Trojans will not find out their final opponent until approximately noon ET on championship Sunday. Pepperdine will meet fourth-seeded Hawaii. The winner of that match will take on USC. All courts are also available to be streamed live on computers and mobile devices via NCAA.com/liveschedule.
1. Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes (USC) def. Delaney Knudsen/Madalyn Roh (PEP); 21-18, 21-9
2. Sophie Bukovec/Allie Wheeler (USC) vs. Brittany Howard/Corinne Quiggle (PEP); 26-28, 10-4 DNF
3. Terese Cannon/Nicolette Martin (USC) def. Skylar Caputo/Heidi Dyer (PEP); 21-16, 21-14
4. Abril Bustamante/Joy Dennis (USC) def. Deahna Kraft/Anika Wilson (PEP); 21-12, 22-20
5. Jenna Belton/Jo Kremer (USC) vs. Nikki Lyons/Sarah Seiber (PEP); 21-23, 15-12 DNF
Order of finish: 3, 4, 1*