On a windy and overcast Tuesday afternoon in Stanford, Calif., the top-ranked USC beach volleyball team easily passed its road test, defeating the Cardinal 5-0 at Stanford Beach Volleyball Stadium in the first-ever meeting between the two Pac-12 programs. With straight-set sweeps on all five courts, the victory on The Farm pushes USC’s record to 26-0 on the season with a 56-match winning streak, while Stanford falls to 12-6 overall.
It was a reunion of sorts for head coach Anna Collier and her Trojans, as first-year Stanford head coach Andrew Fuller served as an assistant under Collier from 2012 to 2015 and helped coach USC to its first AVCA National Championship back in 2015. However, it was the veteran who had the upper hand on her apprentice, as the Trojans seized control from the start and never relinquished their grip.
Courts four and five kicked things off for the Trojans, with USC getting on the board first from the No. 4 spot. Sophomore Abril Bustamante and freshman Joy Dennis jumped on Stanford’s Catherine Raquel and Shannon Richardson early and did not allow any breathing room, running away with a 21-12, 21-12 sweep for the Trojans’ first point of the dual. It was the first match back for Bustamante, as the sophomore had missed the last few weeks due to injury.
Soon thereafter, USC chalked up another straight-set sweep thanks to juniors Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer at the five spot, as the duo posted a 21-17, 21-13 win over Kat Anderson and Courtney Bowen for the second dual point. Kremer and Belton moved to 28-3 overall on the season with a 24-1 mark in duals, and they improved their winning streak to eight matches in a row. To close out the first flight of matches, sophomores Becca Dunn and Katrina Kernochan won their exhibition match against Jennifer DiSanto and Chelsea Red-Horse Mohl (21-16, 21-10).
The dual was clinched at court two, as seniors Sophie Bukovec and Allie Wheeler defeated Payton Chang and Ivana Vanjak by a score of 21-16, 21-13 to mark their 13th win together on the season. Just a few minutes later, a win at the top court from seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes over Stanford freshmen Jenna Gray and Kathryn Plummer (21-14, 22-20) gave the Trojans their fourth point. The victory improved Claes and Hughes’ all-time record to 123-4 overall. To sew up the 5-0 sweep, junior Terese Cannon and senior Nicolette Martin won their match at court three, 21-14,
21-17 over Stanford’s Morgan Hentz and Caitlin Keefe. The win was Cannon and Martin’s 24th on the season and their 21st dual victory in 2017. Overall, USC has won 88 of its last 90 duals during its lengthy unbeaten run.
It will be another short turnaround for the Trojans as they now head back down to Los Angeles to host two teams, No. 5 Long Beach State and Cal State Bakersfield, for a three-way dual meet on Thursday at Merle Norman Stadium. The Trojans have never lost to the Roadrunners, while the 49ers are one of just three teams to ever take a dual match against USC at home — most recently in 2013. Long Beach State (23-5) and CSU Bakersfield (1-12) will kick things off with a dual at noon, while the Trojans and Long Beach State are slated for a dual at approximately 2 p.m., which will be televised on Pac-12 Networks. To close out the meet, USC will take on the Roadrunners for a dual scheduled for around 4 p.m.