Coming off a solid road victory up at Stanford on Tuesday, the No. 1 USC beach volleyball team (26-0) is back home and ready to wrap up the regular season as it hosts a pair of California teams for two dual matches on Thursday afternoon. The Trojans will put their 56-match winning streak on the line when they welcome No. 5 Long Beach State and Cal State Bakersfield to the friendly confines of Merle Norman Stadium, where USC has won its last 12 straight matches. Furthermore, the Trojans will look to win their 88th dual in their last 90 tries.
Senior All-Americans Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes, the first pair in NCAA history to reach 100 wins together (123-4 overall, .968), headline the current undefeated Trojan squad at the top court after setting a national record with 103 consecutive victories from April 2, 2015 to April 8, 2017.
The two veterans have the benefit of experience on their side, having played together at court one since their sophomore years. However, the other four USC pairs have all had to adjust to new partners in 2017, with 14 different lineup changes being used throughout the season due to various injuries. But with a team as deep as USC’s, Hughes knows how big of a luxury it is to have players on the roster that can come in and step up when called upon.
“I’m not surprised at how well our team has adjusted,” Hughes said. “I think that’s a big thing for us this year — we have depth from top to bottom, from our ones to our fives and even our exhibition pairs. People are working really hard in practice and pushing each other to get better, and that has been great for us as a whole.”
The Trojan depth has been on full display so far this season despite the lineup changes, with three different USC pairs notching at least 20 wins this season. One of those successful pairs is the tandem of juniors Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer at the No. 5 spot. With a 28-3 overall mark together on the season and a 24-1 record in dual matches, Belton and Kremer will look to extend their own winning streak to 10 consecutive matches with two wins on Thursday. Finally, the No. 3 pair of junior Terese Cannon and senior Nicolette Martin have posted 24 overall wins (seven losses) with 21 of those coming in dual play. In total, six pairs have recorded at least 11 wins overall this season.