USC wins two matches but loses to Pepperdine

On a rare cloudy day in Malibu, the No. 4 ranked Women of Troy (17-7) shone in their first two matchups but failed in their most important test of the day.

The pair of junior Abril Bustamante (left) and freshman Tina Graudina won all three of their matches on Saturday. Sunny Dong | Daily Trojan

In their first match of the Pepperdine Invitational at Zuma Beach, USC swept Saint Mary’s College (11-5) 5-0.

To kick off what would be a dominant performance for the Trojans, seniors Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer outlasted Lindsey Calvin and Kelsey Knudsen in two sets, 21-12, 21-12 on court 4. The Trojans’ next point was earned when senior Terese Cannon and freshman Sammy Slater downed Emily Bible and Lindsey Knudsen, 21-12, 21-16 on court 2. USC was able to swiftly clinch the dual from court 5 with a 21-16, 21-12 win by junior Katrina Kernochan and senior Alexandra Poletto. The victory marked USC’s fifth in a row.

Although the match was already decided at that point, the top court and court 3 featured two nail-baiting three-set games. USC’s most consistent pair of junior Abril Bustamante and freshman Tina Graudina defeated Morgan Hughes and Payton Rund, 21-11, 17-21, 15-8.

Sophomore Joy Dennis and freshman Haley Hallgren opened up strong with a first set win 21-9 over Saint Mary’s Sarah Chase and Mary Hernandez on court 3, but the match was forced to go into a third set when Chase and Hernandez won the second set 21-17. Dennis and Hallgren would have to battle back from a 3 point deficit in the third set, ultimately coming out on top 16-14 and completing the sweep for USC.

USC similarly dominated again in their second matchup of the day; this time against the 16th ranked Loyola Marymount Lions (12-8). The Trojans were able to secure their sixth-straight win at that point behind the the first court pair of Bustamante and Graudina setting the tone by taking down the Lions’ top pair of McKayla Ferris and Savannah Slattery (21-17 , 21-13).

The second domino to fall was the court 2 pair of Cannon and Slater defeating Sarah Kovac and Jessie Prichard (21-13, 21-11). USC was able to clinch the win when Katrina Kernochan and Alexandra Poletto claimed a 21-13, 21-19 win over Bozena Culo and Maddie Leiphardt at court four.

With their victories on Saturday, USC remains undefeated all-time against Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary’s.

In the marquee matchup of the day, the Women of Troy once again came up short against No.1 ranked Pepperdine Waves, falling to their arch-rivals 4-1.

Though USC fought hard in all of the games and many of the games went down to the wire, they managed to squeeze only one point against the Waves, who have now won 16 out of their last 18 matches.

The Trojans’ lone bright spot in the matchup came from the top court when reigning Pac-12 pair of the week Bustamante and Graudina earned their 16th overall win on a 21-16, 20-22, 17-15 victory over Deahna Kraft and Corinne Quiggle of Pepperdine.

With the loss, USC falls to 0-3 against Pepperdine this season and the Waves now lead the all-time series 11-10. They are the only team in collegiate beach volleyball to have a winning record over the Women of Troy. The two teams will face one another again on April 10 at Merle Norman Stadium in Los Angeles.

Up next for USC, the team travels to Westwood on Wednesday to take on crosstown rival No. 2 UCLA.

The two Southern California powerhouses have split the season series thus far, with the Bruins defeating USC 3-2 at Merle Norman Stadium on Feb. 28 and the Women of Troy returning the favor at the Zuma Invitational 3-2 on March 3.

Wednesday’s  pivotal matchup will be televised on the Pac-12 Network at 3:30 p.m.