USC wins inaugural NCAA Beach Championship

May 08, 2016, 5:18 p.m. (ET)


GULF SHORES, Ala. - The University of Southern California is the first ever NCAA Beach Volleyball National Champion. USC defeated Florida State University 3-0 on Sunday to win the Inaugural NCAA Championship in Alabama.

USC dropped just one match through the three-day tournament, to Florida State in the semifinal matchup. In a second meeting between the schools, USC once again came out on top, this time unscathed, 3-0, and for the inaugural NCAA title.


The bracket consisted of eight teams competing in team duals in the double elimination tournament. Three teams were selected from the West, three teams from the East and two at-large bids were given. Schools consisted of five pairs, but for scoring purposes, play is suspended once a school reaches the necessary three matches to win a dual. With a staggered start of pairs No. 1, 2 and 4, then three and five.

Second-seeded USC swept Georgia State and Pepperdine, 3-0 before facing off with No. 1 FSU. The Trojans knocked the Seminoles into the loser’s bracket with a 3-1 victory and punched their ticket directly to the finals.

"This means a lot for USC, and the winning tradition that the university has," said USC head coach Anna Collier. "This is big to set the foundation for the future of beach volleyball at USC."

FSU defeated Stetson and Hawaii before losing to USC in a battle of the unbeaten in the semifinal. The Seminoles then faced UCLA Sunday morning in the elimination bracket to make it to the championship match.

In the end, championship point would come down to USC's No. 1 pair of Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes, who faced FSU's Jace Pardon and Julie Brown on the center court for the title. Hughes/Claes won their match 21-15, 21-10, to set the historic marker for USC as the first NCAA Champion in beach volleyball, a feat USC did on a 34-2 record in 2016.

"I am beyond excited of this moment," Claes said. "We are so happy and proud of one another. We have worked so hard for this championship."

Of their first appearance at the NCAA National Championship, FSU head coach Brooke Niles said, "I think we played hard today against USC, but I believe they played more aggressive than us today. This just means that the beach volleyball world needs to look out for Florida State in the future."

All-Tournament Team
No. 1 Pair: Sara Hughes/Kelly Claes, USC
No. 2 Pair: Jianna Bonomi/Katarina Schulz, Arizona
No. 3 Pair: Ginger Long/Mikayla Tucker, Hawaii
No. 4 Pair: Zana Muno/Jessyka Ngauamo, UCLA
No. 5 Pair: Jo Kremer/Zoe Nightingale

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