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Beach Volleyball. Claes and Hughes Highlight USC’s Pac-12 Postseason Awards Haul

May 5, 2016

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The Trojan tandem of juniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes was named the Pac-12 Pair of the Year

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May 5, 2016

GULF SHORES, Ala. — The USC junior duo of Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes was named the first-ever Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Pair of the Year by the Pac-12 Conference on Thursday, May 5. Claes also received the distinction of being chosen as the league’s first-ever Beach Volleyball Player of the Year. Claes, Hughes, junior Sophie Bukovec, and senior Alexa Strange were each selected to the inaugural Pac-12 All-Conference first team and freshman Abril Bustamante was named to the second team and to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team.

Claes and Hughes are 44-0 on the season and have dropped just one set all year. The duo is riding a 69-match winning streak that dates back to April 2, 2015, and contains titles in several tournaments including the 2015 AVCA National Championship and wins in the 2016 Hawai’i Invitational, USAV Beach Collegiate Challenge, and the Aloha Invitational. Last week, the duo became the first tandem to be crowned Pac-12 Pairs Champions. Through the season, they claimed Pac-12 Pair of the Week three times. Claes and Hughes are 88-3 all-time and share the program record for wins as a pair with fellow juniors Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler (88-14).

Bukovec and Strange are 33-9 this season (66-19 all-time) and were finalists in the Hawai’i Invitational and the USAV Beach Collegiate Challenge. Each time, they lost to teammates Claes and Hughes. Bukovec-Strange won the Aloha Invitational silver bracket and were quarterfinalists in the Pac-12 Pairs Championship. Together, the court-two pair has clinched six duals for the Women of Troy this season.

Bustamante is 27-7 in her freshman season and has played primarily with sophomore Jenna Belton. She advanced to the Hawai’i Invitational silver final where she and Belton fell to Martin and Wheeler, and has teamed with Belton to deliver the clinching point in four duals this season.

The top-ranked USC beach volleyball team (30-2) was awarded the second seed in the inaugural NCAA championship tournament and will face seventh-seeded Georgia State (25-8) in a first-round match on Friday (May 6) on the sands of Gulf Shores, Ala., at 11 a.m. CT (9 a.m. PT). The event will be televised live by Turner Networks, with truTV providing live coverage on Friday (May 6) and Saturday (May 7) from 2-5 p.m. CT (12-3 p.m. PT). The championship round will air on TBS on Sunday (May 8) at 1 p.m. CT (11 a.m. PT). Additional live streaming coverage of every court in each match of the tournament will be available on NCAA.com.

For more information on the USC beach volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCBeach on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Instagram, and Snapchat. For more information on the inaugural NCAA beach volleyball championship, please visit NCAA.com/BeachVolleyball.

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