COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – In Parnu, Estonia, two women’s collegiate teams topped the podium at the 8th World University Beach Volleyball Championships.

Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes, from the University of Southern California, took home gold on Sunday by defeating the United States’ second women’s team, Madison and McKenna Witt, of the University of Arizona, by a score of 21-16, 21-13.

The all-American final was set up after the Witts and Claes/Hughes won their respective pools, 3-0, and tallied wins in the second and third rounds. Both entered the finale undefeated. Claes and Hughes finished the tournament without dropping a single set in six matches.

“To bring this gold medal home for USA, we couldn’t be happier,” said Claes and Hughes. “We were working really hard to get to the finals and we are so happy to make it there.”

Claes and Hughes earned bronze at the 2013 U19 and 2014 U21 World Championships. It is their second-consecutive gold medal, having won gold at NORCECA North Bay before traveling to Estonia. The duo now trek to the FIVB World Tour Klagenfurt Open in Austria.

For the U.S. men, the road was a lengthy one. Branden Clemens (Harvard) and Brendan Duff (Orange Coast College) finished 14th and Chris Orenic and Lucas Yoder, of USC, placed 23rd. Both teams finished 1-2 in pool play, forcing them to take on additional matches during the elimination rounds.

Clemens and Duff won their first round match against Estonia, but split two matches before advancing into the second round. There they lost to Austria to push them into the 13th-place match against Australia. Against the Aussies, Clemens/Duff lost, 21-19, 21-15, finishing their tournament run with a 3-5 record.

For Orenic/Yoder, the pair lost their first round matchup to Switzerland and followed with a pair of losses in the quarterfinals and semifinals for 17-24th placed teams. They beat Slovenia, 21-16, 13-21, 15-10, to secure 23rd place.

World University Championships
– Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes won gold, their best finish at a youth aged championship as a team and individually
– Madison Witt/McKenna Witt won silver in their first career international event
– Branden Clemens/Brendan Duff finished 14th, improving on their team best finish of 17th at an NVL event in 2016; career international debut for Duff
– Chris Orenic/Lucas Yoder finished 23rd, a career best for Orenic who finished 25th at U21 Championships in 2014

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