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Women of Troy sweep Pac-12 Invitational

first_imgThis season, consistency has been the name of the game for the No. 1-ranked USC sand volleyball team. From top to bottom, all five Women of Troy pairs have produced quality wins in a steady fashion, and it was no different this weekend at the 2015 Pac-12 Invitational in Santa Monica. After beating Arizona State by a 4-1 score and sweeping No. 10-ranked Arizona 5-0 twice, the Women of Troy (24-0) claimed their second consecutive Pac-12 Invitational title and remained perfect on the season.In total, USC dropped just three sets over the course of the day, while their two 5-0 sweeps of Arizona upped their total to 16 sweeps on the year. Some milestones were met on the day as well, as the sophomore tandem of Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler won all three of their matches and recorded their 25th win, making them the fourth USC pair to do so this season. Furthermore, the No. 5 pair pair of senior Bria Russ and freshman Jenna Belton also won all three of their matches on Saturday and are now just one win away from also reaching that 25-win plateau. Russ herself finished the regular season with a perfect 24-0 mark in duals.USC welcomed four other up-and-coming conference teams to the Pac-12 Invitational this weekend, including No. 8 UCLA (9-4), No. 10 Arizona (15-3), Arizona State (6-11) and California (7-12). USC would start off against the winner of the “play-in” game between the No. 4-seed Arizona State Sun Devils and the No. 5-seed California Golden Bears. ASU prevailed in the earliest match of the day, pitting them against USC in the first round of the tournament. On the bottom of the bracket,  No. 2-seed UCLA would face off against No. 3-seed Arizona, where the Wildcats came out victorious.In the first round of the double-elimination style bracket, the No. 1-seed Women of Troy started the morning off against the No. 4-seed Arizona State Sun Devils. USC struck first and got wins from their four and five pairs, as Belton and Russ at the five spot delivered an easy 21-5, 21-7 win over ASU’s Frances Giedraitis and Kwyn Johnson. Then, Martin and Wheeler at the four spot notched a 21-7, 21-13 win over Mia Rivera and McKenzie Willey. The sophomore pair of Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes would clinch the dual match over on court one, handing Bianca Arellano and Macey Gardner a 21-12, 21-11 defeat. The No. 3 pair of seniors Eve Ettinger and Meg Norton added a fourth point to the team total with a 21-9, 21-19 beating of Whitney Follette and Halle Harker, while the last pair to finish was USC’s No. 2 tandem of junior Alexa Strange and sophomore Sophie Bukovec. ASU’s Jordy Checkal and Bethany Jorgensen squeaked out a close 25-23 win in the first set and rode that momentum into the second, handing Strange and Bukovec a rare 25-23, 21-17 loss on the day. Still, USC registered a 4-1 win against the Sun Devils and moved on to the semifinals of team play.The Women of Troy would then face off against a ranked team in the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats. Belton and Russ would score USC’s first point at the five spot once again, recording a 21-10, 21-12 win over Arizona’s Hailey Devlin and Sarah Seiber. The next team to score a point would be the No. 1 pair of Claes and Hughes, who beat Arizona twins Madison Witt and McKenna Witt by an identical 21-14, 21-14 score. It would be the upperclassmen of USC that clinched the dual, as the No. 3 pair of Ettinger and Norton handed Emily Kiser and Rachel Rhoades a 21-8, 21-12 loss. Strange and Bukovec at the two spot would record their first win of the day with a 21-18, 21-17 win over Kaitlyn Leary and Kendall Polan, while Martin and Wheeler at the four spot completed the 5-0 sweep with a 21-12, 26-24 nail biter win over Arizona’s Taylor Arizobal and Allie Cook. The win over the Wildcats propelled USC into the title match, but the Women of Troy would have to wait to see who their next opponent would be.The Arizona Wildcats had to face off against the ASU Sun Devils in the loser’s bracket in order to have a chance to advance to the finals and face USC. Ultimately, the Wildcats prevailed over the rival Sun Devils by a 3-2 score. An hour after the Women of Troy had beaten the Wildcats, the two teams would meet again in the championship match of the Pac-12 Invite. It would be déjà vu for the Women of Troy, as once again USC swept the Wildcats, 5-0. This time, USC got on the board first with a win on court three, as Ettinger and Norton handed Kiser and Rhoades a 21-5,       21-13 defeat. Belton and Russ at the five spot defeated Devlin and Seiber 23-21, 21-7, while the No. 1 pair of Claes and Hughes clinched the victory and the Pac-12 Invite crown with a 21-18, 21-14 win over the Witts. Bukovec and Strange handed Leary and Polan a 21-17, 21-19 loss on court two, and Martin and Wheeler clinched the sweep with an exciting three set win over Arizobal and Cook by a 21-16, 21-23, 15-11 score. By the end of the day, USC added three more wins to their total to remain perfect on the season, while handing No. 10-ranked Arizona just their second and third losses all year.The Women of Troy are hoping to carry the momentum into the postseason when they head off to the AVCA Championships held in Gulf Shores, Alabama, in early May.last_img

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