The No. 4-ranked USC women’s sand volleyball team could not keep up with defending champion Pepperdine, as it fell Tuesday to the No. 1-ranked Waves 4-1 in the final regular-season home contest at Merle Norman Stadium on Tuesday.
The Women of Troy (9-3) put themselves in a hole early, dropping the No. 4 and No. 5 matches in the first round of play. In the No. 5-ranked match, the pair of junior Sam Hirschmann and sophomore Alexa Stonish fell to Pepperdine’s Katie Messing and Emily Cook in straight sets, 21-12, 21-19. The No. 4-ranked match had the same result, as the Waves’ Victoria Adelheim and Taylor Racich swept the USC pair of junior Brooke Fournier and senior Natasa Siljkovic 21-16, 21-13.
“Ultimately, the difference was that we didn’t stay in the match,” said USC head coach Anna Collier. “We put ourselves in a hole and would get behind early in our matches, and playing catch up is very tough to do.”
The overall team match was clinched by Pepperdine in the No. 1-ranked pairing with the USC team of graduate student Stevi Robinson and junior Kirby Burnham falling to the Waves in straight sets, 21-13. 21-19.
With the win, Pepperdine (6-0) stays undefeated on the season and has never dropped a dual team match.
In the No. 3-ranked match, the Waves’ Kelley Larsen and Kellie Woolever would put Pepperdine up 4-0 with another perfect match over the USC pair of sophomores Eve Ettinger and Bria Russ, 21-14, 21-17.
Though the match was already decided, USC would fight back in the No. 2-ranked match, looking to prevent the Pepperdine sweep. USC’s pair of senior Katie Fuller and freshman Cinnamon Sary dropped the first set 21-13 to the Waves’ Lara Dykstra and Racich.
The Waves had gone four-and-a-half sets without a single loss and were poised for another sweep, but the Trojans’ Fuller and Sary had other plans. The two would narrowly claim the second set 22-20. In the third set, they ended the dual on a high note, winning 15-13 to take the match.
“The match was a lot closer than the score indicated,” Collier said. “We just need to stick to playing our game and not getting caught up early in our matches.”
The Trojans will get another shot at the Waves during the regular season when they travel up to Malibu on April 6. With Tuesday’s loss, USC is 0-3 all-time against Pepperdine, with two of those losses coming in its inaugural season in 2012.
“We need to take care of our side of the court better,” Collier said. “We have a game plan and we just need to execute that game plan using our fundamentals.”
The Women of Troy finished the regular season with a home record of 7-3. However, USC will play an exhibition match at home against the USA National Beach Team on April 27.
The road ahead does not get much easier for the Women of Troy as they are set to travel away from the comfort of Merle Norman Stadium to take on No. 2-ranked Long Beach State on Thursday. First serve is set for 1 p.m.