International Volleyball

USC x 4: Trojans win NCAA beach volleyball title again

USC x 4: Trojans win NCAA beach volleyball title again

USC dogpiles/Mark Rigney photo

The official tally of the national-title dual was 3-0, but little came easy for USC against UCLA.

USCโ€™s Nicole Nourse stuffs UCLAโ€™s Kenzie Brower to win the match/Mark Rigney photo

The wonder Women of Troy completed an unprecedented four-peat in the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship on Sunday in Gulf Shores, Alabama, with the clinching point recorded for a second year in a row by the battle-hardened Nourse twins at the 3s. When Nicole stuffed an overpass to the sand to put an exclamation point on a third-set victory, her teammates were sent into a well-deserved celebratory frenzy.

A sun-kissed crowd packing the Redneck Riviera venue and a rapt national audience tuning into ESPN were treated to a bevy of nail-biting moments. The score aside, all five matches were extended to tiebreakers, the first time thatโ€™s happened in an NCAA final.

That pretty much was to be expected when these SoCal giants โ€“ the preeminent programs in collegiate beach volleyball โ€“ squared off for the fourth time for an NCAA title after splitting their six previous meetings during the 2024 season.

UCSโ€™s 3s notched the decisive point, but the credit for the teamโ€™s being able to take another joyful collective dive into the Gulf of Mexico was equally shared by its duos at the 2s and 4s. Both stepped up in clutch time during an eventful and tone-setting first flight to pull out three-set victories after they had fallen into 1-0 holes.

The top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Women of Troy (37-5) enjoyed a wealth of veteran leadership from high-profile returnees such as seniors Megan Kraft and Delaynie Maple (the nationโ€™s top pair) and fifth-year standouts Aubrey and Nicole Nourse, plus the savvy lent by grad transfers Madi Kriz (Stanford) and Grace Seits (LSU), both of whom made vast contributions to their new team.

USC charges to the Gulf/Will Chu Photography

โ€œUnbelievable the way (our players) handled the pressure,โ€ Coach Dain Blanton said. โ€œWe donโ€™t talk about it, but itโ€™s everywhere โ€“ itโ€™s the elephant in the room. Four in a row. A three-peat, thatโ€™s been done a lot, but four is unthinkable.

โ€œThe squad that we have, the grad students, the seniors, letโ€™s talk about that for a minute: Maple and Kraft and the twins, four years, four national championships as starters. Itโ€™s incredible what they have done.โ€

But the single player who most influenced the result of the championship dual against second-seeded and No. 2-ranked archrival UCLA…

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