Hermosa Beach, Calif., USA, May 13, 2017 - Hours before playing in the semi-finals and medal matches here Saturday at the USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships at Hermosa Beach Pier, American Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes from the University of Southern California talked about playing on the FIVB World Tour in the coming weeks after competing the past two-plus months for their school.
Claes and Hughes, who will be playing next week in a FIVB World Tour event in Rio de Janeiro, won three matches Friday to improve their tournament mark to 5-0 and their collegiate season record to 53-1. Last week in Gulf Shores, Ala., Claes and Hughes won four matches in leading USC to the second-straight NCAA title as the Women of Troy finished the season with a 38-1 dual record.
with USC coach Anna Biller Collier
Are you tired? You have been playing the past two months. How are you feeling physically and mentally?
Claes - "Pretty tired but having fun. We're out here trying to get a little bit better. We recover as much as we can in our off time. We're going to go get some food, get to bed early so we're prepared for tomorrow.
Also will you have a let down in Rio after playing the last three weekends in the Pac-12, NCAA and USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships?
Hughes - "I think it will be a little slower of a pace, only because when we do Pac-12s, not so much NCAA, but we're consistently on site all the time. At FIVB you play, then go back to the hotel and relax for a little bit. It'll be a slower pace which may be nice for us. We're excited regardless."
How different will it be playing internationally against the world elite as compared to American collegiate opponents?
Hughes - "It's definitely going to be a step up. Not that the competition collegiately is bad, we battle out here with a lot of great and amazing teams. But we're playing against world champions and Olympians. It's a different game and we're excited and hopefully we've prepared well this collegiate season to go in and do the best we can."
Are you excited about playing in Rio and two weeks later in Moscow.?
Claes - "100-percent. We're so excited that we got in. We'll take this opportunity and roll with it and see how well we can do. We want to go out and have a big bang in our first pro tour that we can accept money and compete in. It's hard to say no to money but it's for sure been worth it. We've both just graduated, got our degrees and beyond happy and blessed for that. We're excited to actually get to take money."
Hughes - "To actually get to become professional beach volleyball players, it's cool. I've never been to Rio so I'm excited."
Have you been to Moscow?
Claes - "New adventures!"
Hughes - "No. We haven't been to a lot of places."
What about other FIVB events?
Claes - "Croatia, I think will be really cool."
Hughes - "I've heard Gstaad is absolutely amazing. I've been to Croatia once before and it's one of my favorite places. Hopefully Vienna too for the World Championships if we get it."
Claes - "Yes! Oh yeah."
Hughes - "Always looking forward to that, if it happens."
With their success Claes and Hughes have been featured in several web articles in the recent week's, including a pieces early this week on www.teamusa.org
and in the Los Angeles TIMES.