The USC beach volleyball team won the NCAA National Championship on May 7, beating Pepperdine 3-2 to clinch the program’s third consecutive national title.The No. 1 ranked Trojans had been dominant all year, finishing with a 38-1 record, so it was no surprise they found themselves in Gulf Shores, Ala. last weekend, looking to defend their back-to-back national championships. USC carried its regular-season momentum into the National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship, running rampant through the competition. Facing the top programs in the nation, the Trojans were flawless, and they swept South Carolina, Hawaii and Pepperdine to earn a spot in the final.But for the first time since their sole loss of the season against UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship, the Trojans faced major adversity in their rematch against Pepperdine. The first dual of the final matchup went in favor of Pepperdine’s Deahna Kraft and Anika Wilson, who downed the young pair of sophomore Abril Bustamante and freshman Joy Dennis. The Trojans responded quickly, as juniors Jenna Belton and and Jo Kremer dispensed of their competition 21-18, 21-15.With the two teams tied at 1-1, Pepperdine’s Brittany Howard and Corinne Quiggle regained the Waves’ advantage with a tough three-set victory over seniors Sophie Bukovec and Allie Wheeler. The seesawing affair continued with the Trojans’ decorated senior pair of Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes winning another tightly contested three-set dual, evening the match at two wins apiece.Both teams were set for a deciding final matchup with the National Championship on the line. It was up to junior Terese Cannon and senior Nicolette Martin to notch a win over Pepperdine’s Skylar Caputo and Heidi Dyer and bring home another national title. After capturing the first set 21-19, the Trojan pair dropped the second 18-21, setting up a dramatic final frame in an already razor-thin final.But the Trojans were able to seize the moment, as Cannon and Martin won the title-clinching set 15-13, giving USC 104 all-time NCAA team championships. For seniors Kelly Claes, Sophie Bukovec, Allie Wheeler, Sara Hughes and Nicolette Martin — who made up head coach Anna Collier’s first recruiting class — the win over Pepperdine marked their third national championship in four years at USC.“They came in and pretty much set the tone from the beginning,” Collier said. “From the moment they were sophomores, they took control of the situation and started building a team culture. They improved so much in volleyball, but more than that, they became a unit.”Collier refers to the group as the “Fab Five,” and on Sunday, the senior class solidified its legacy in USC history, giving the Trojans their 20th NCAA championship in women’s sports.“It came down to those last two points,” Claes said. “It was just an unreal feeling — I’m on cloud nine right now. I’m just so proud of all these girls and the fight that all of us had.”To wrap up a season full of silverware, the Trojans had three pairs selected to the all-tournament team, including Claes and Hughes, who were named the top overall pair. Cannon and Martin were honored as the No. 3 pair, with Bustamante and Dennis following just behind in No. 4.
The 76ers will have to face the beasts of the Eastern Conference without their All-Star center for an extended stretch.Joel Embiid is out indefinitely after suffering a torn ligament in his left hand. Embiid’s absence will put pressure on Ben Simmons, Al Horford and the rest of the Sixers as they battle with the Bucks, Heat, Celtics and Raptors for playoff positioning. “You have to recalibrate a little bit and find a way to get excited to coach the team that we have,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said on Jan. 9 prior to a win against Boston. “All of a sudden, we’re different. We’re just different. I look at this as an opportunity. Nobody’s crying. This is not a ‘woe is me’ moment, not for me, at all. And not for my players.”We will take what we have, and what we have, I love. We’re just different than we used to be.”What’s next for the 76ers star? Here’s everything we know about Embiid’s injury and the latest news on when he may return to the court.MORE INJURY NEWS: Kyrie Irving | Zion Williamson How long will Joel Embiid be out?Embiid underwent surgery on Jan. 10 to repair a torn radial collateral ligament in the fourth metacarpal in his left hand and will be re-evaluated in one to two weeks, per the Sixers. However, he could need more than a month to fully recover based on the typical timeline for this kind of injury.”In a professional athlete, four to eight weeks would be somewhere, the range where you would start looking for him on the court, I would say as a guess,” hand surgeon Dr. Eric Strauss told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “But I think the surgeon at the time will be able to tell better after he’s fixed it, how long it would be.”Joel Embiid injury timelineDuring a Jan. 6 game against the Thunder, Embiid suffered a nasty dislocation of his left ring finger, but he was able to return and finish with 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Embiid later revealed he had suffered a torn ligament in that finger and would be speaking with doctors about his next step.(WARNING: This video of the injury is not pleasant.) An NBA TV camera captured a view of the finger as Joel Embiid was walking off the court and it was clearly pointing in the wrong direction either from a dislocation or a break.#NBA #PhilaUnite pic.twitter.com/Fh3Y5WzmDF— FLEE TV ™ (@FLEESPORTS) January 7, 2020Embiid eventually chose to undergo surgery after consulting with hand specialists. It is unclear how long he will be sidelined. Prior to the injury, the 25-year-old was averaging 23.4 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.4 blocks per game.Joel Embiid injury updates— How the 76ers can survive without Embiid— Embiid needs surgery after tearing ligament in left hand (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/f2/3f/joel-embiid-getty-112619-ftrjpg_1wogonwis8y6o1xai1dq3nhwab.jpg?t=-1471359970&w=500&quality=80