By Karen Price | May 09, 2019, 10:44 p.m. (ET)
Athletes compete at the 2018 USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships, part of the Team USA Summer Champions Series, presented by Xfinity, on May 10, 2018 in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

 

Defending women’s champions Claire Coppola and Kristen Nuss are ready to make another run at the USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships title.

The pair from Louisiana State won their first two matches of the day as the competition, part of the Team USA Champions Series, presented by Xfinity, got underway in Hermosa Beach, California on Thursday. The top-seeded duo defeated a duo from Santa Ana College before beating No. 19 Isabella Bauman and Jessica Stansfield from Grand Canyon University, 21-14, 22-20.

The top seeds in four additional pools emerged victorious: Brook Bauer and Deahana Kraft from Pepperdine, the No. 2 overall seed, won Pool B, No. 4 overall seed Crissy Jones and Macy Gordon from Cal Poly took Pool D, Megan Kruidhof and Mariana Molina, the No. 6 seeds overall from Long Beach State, came out of Pool E on top, and College of Charleston’s Devon Rachel and Jamie Rhodes won Pool G.

The biggest upset of the day came in Pool C when the No. 15 seed, Emma Doud and Savanna Slattery, of Loyola Marymount, upset the No. 3 seed coming in, Madison Fitzpatrick and Alaina Chacon, from Florida State, in three sets in the second match, 14-21, 35-33, 15-13.

No. 12 seeds Lindsey Calvin and Lindsey Knudsen, from St. Mary’s College, also scored an upset over Payton Rund and Sara Putt, the No. 7 seed from Florida State, in their second match and won Pool F, and Olivia Powers and Kelli Agnew became the only team that made it from qualifiers to the main draw to win their pool when they upset No. 9 overall Jaelyn Keene and Tressa Buckland, from Alabama-Birmingham, in the first match and No. 10 Ashley Wenz and Oluoma Okaro of Arizona State.

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Last year’s winners on the men’s side and the top seeds overall also won their pools, although they’re playing with different partners this year. Adam Wienckowsi, from Florida Atlantic University, and Tim Brewster, a Youth Olympian, of UCLA chased off their first two opponents with ease.

Wienckowsi won last year with Jonathan Justice, who this year is the No. 2 seed with Bryce Edwards of Nicholls State. Justice and Edwards also won their pool, as did the top seeds in Pool C, Chris Shaffer and Leor Schiffer, the No. 3 overall seeds from San Diego. Shaffer and Schiffer survived an upset attempt by No. 12 Kaden Knepper and Eugenio DeJesus, from Liberty, who forced their opponents to a tiebreaker set.

The lone upset on the men’s side came in the final match of the day when the No. 6 seed overall, Zachary Meyer and Jordan Hoppe of Concordia Irvine knocked off No. 4 Evan Cory and Jacob Titus of Lincoln Memorial in three sets, 15-21, 21-16, 15-11.

Single elimination play begins for men and women on Friday, which wraps with the men’s semifinals.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.