Beach volleyball continues to serve streak of success

first_imgThe USC beach volleyball team is no stranger to winning.After going 34-2 overall and finishing last season on a 30-match winning streak to capture the sport’s first-ever NCAA championship title, the Trojans’ golden success on the sand has transferred over seamlessly into their 2017 campaign.The top-ranked Trojans currently own an unblemished 25-0 record this season and have since extended their program-record win streak to a remarkable 55 consecutive matches, with wins in 87 of their last 89 duals. In fact, USC hasn’t lost a match in nearly 400 days, dating all the way back to March 11, 2016.With a streak of that magnitude, you might expect there to be some added pressure to remain “perfect.”For the Trojans and head coach Anna Collier, however, the focus is not on the streak, but rather on playing good, high-quality beach volleyball every time they step out on the court — a style of play that Collier simply brands as “USC volleyball.”“We try not to focus on those winning streaks because we’ve obviously been down that road before,” Collier said. “Last season was last season, and after winning back-to-back national championships, the target is definitely on our backs. But what we’re just trying to do is play the best volleyball we can, and if we can do that, then the byproduct will be that three-peat.”And this year’s new-look Trojans are certainly poised to make another big run in the postseason. In addition to Collier, who is the first and only collegiate beach volleyball coach to reach 100 career victories with a 133-17 overall record (.886), USC has relied on a roster filled with experienced upperclassmen to lead the way.Perhaps the most impressive feat this year, however, has been the fact that the Trojans have maintained that success even with shuffled pairs and multiple injuries.The current lineup is comprised of five seniors, three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman. All but one of those five pairs had played together before the start the season, though, as the No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 pairs were all newly formed this year. And yet, with about half of the regular season completed, all four of those new pairs have already reached double-digit wins despite battling multiple injuries on each court. The one constant for USC has been at the top court, where seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes have steamrolled over their competition. The All-Americans and the winningest pair in NCAA history have played together since the beginning of the 2015 season and have since compiled a 122-4 all-time record (.968). They also had a nice streak of their own, winning an incredible 103-consecutive matches dating back to April 2, 2015. It’s this type of consistency and big-time play from top to bottom that has helped position the Trojans well for a chance to win their third consecutive national title this spring. Claes acknowledged that the depth of her team and their willingness to compete and win has been a big factor to USC’s success this season.“We all knew coming into the year that every single team would be gunning for us,” Claes said. “But that was something we all really embraced. Every team we face is going to be playing their best against us no matter what, and we’re up to that challenge and ready to prove why we’re the best team in the nation.”In retrospect, the last four years of the collegiate beach volleyball scene have been dominated by USC and its senior class. Claes, Hughes, Sophie Bukovec, Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler — all starters since the day they arrived on campus — own a combined record of 110-5 overall for an impressive .957 career winning percentage. With about a month left in the season, though, Hughes and the rest of the Trojans are eager and ready to defend their title in the upcoming tournament.“Staying on top is definitely the mantra this year,” Hughes said. “There were so many amazing firsts last season, like winning Pac-12s and NCAAs, and the streak has been pretty cool too. But while we’re really proud of what we accomplished, this season we have to work even harder to win them again. The ultimate goal has always been to win a national championship at the end of the season. We know it’s not going to be easy, but we’re ready to fight and we want to go out with a bang.”last_img read more

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EDITORIAL: It’s all about the lyrics, people!

first_imgEven as Jamaican entertainer Buju Banton gave what has been reported as a much welcomed “Thrilling and exciting” performance in Jamaica last Saturday, it was evident this welcome wasn’t a consensus. While on Saturday night and Sunday social media trended with videos, images and positive comments related to the entertainer’s performance, there were also posts questioning why an ex-convict was being so celebrated. Critical Facebook postOne Facebook post provoking strong backlash read “I don’t get it. Can someone explain to me. You commit a drug crime, spend time in prison and return as a superstar to a hero’s welcome to make millions of dollars What message are we sending to our children…..Lord help us!”The individual who shared this post was by no means unique. Since Buju’s release from a US prison last December, the warm welcome from a large segment of Jamaican society, and the enthusiastic response to his current concert tour, “The long Walk to Freedom,” there has been similar, even worse, criticisms.MisunderstandingCleary, those who cannot understand the enthusiasm surrounding Buju also don’t understand the impact Jamaican culture has on the country’s social environment.This cultural impact, however, is not related to only Jamaica, but throughout the Caribbean, and even in American communities where the lyrics song by entertainers convey strong social messages that motivate people more than politicians or even religious leaders can.The Mighty Sparrow’s social commentaries Back in the 1950s during the British colonial era, Trinidad’s Mighty Sparrow sang a song called “Dan is the Man” reflecting the mis-education Caribbean children was receiving from the British. Sparrow’s lyrics criticized the nursery rhymes these children were subject to which made them believe “The cow jumps over the moon,” and “Dan is the man in the van.” Sparrow became one of the world’s most famous calypsonian. Although there were critics who frowned upon “slackness” in some of his lyrics, most of the lyrics were powerful social commentary of the social failures and politics of the day.Meanwhile, over in Jamaica, the youth faced with steep social challenges, were subject to the lyrics of white American singers like Patti Page, singing of that “Doggie in the window” and Doris Day’s encouraging people to walk on “Moonlight Bay.”The impact of the ‘toasters’ in the 60’sBut then a change came in the 1960’s and 70s when entertainers like U-Roy and Shorty began toasting, talking over the rhythm of popular songs. These artists, and several that followed had songs with well-received lyrics that commented on the socio-economic climate of the time, especially the hardships being incurred by the lower classesIn 1972, the message in the lyrics of Delroy Wilson’s “Better Must Come” resonated with the masses, and helped in Michael Manley’s historical election victoryBob Marley’s meaningful lyricsWhen Bob Marley immerged in 1964, the lyrics in his song “Simmer Down” cautioned Jamaica’s rebellious youth to  “control your temper.” His songs were not just musically thrilling, but most carried messages the people could relate to. The lyrics in “Trench Town Rock” portrayed the challenges faced in Kingston ghettos where some slept on cold ground with rock stone as their pillow.  “No woman Nuh Cry” offered consolation to many mothers whose sons were victims of criminal violence. In a time of social and economic hardships, Marley exhorted Jamaicans, “Don’t worry about a thing, every little thing will be all right.”It’s ironic that the Jamaican upper class that now hails the music of the late Bob Marley didn’t appreciate or even understand his lyrics during the 70s. Some even criticized him for being a “dutty Rasta Bway.” But it wasn’t about the flashing locks, or him prancing on stage. It was all about the lyrics. Lyrics that helped Blacks overcome apartheid in Angola and South Africa, and kept Winnie Mandela strong as she sought Nelson Mandela’s freedomSo it is with Buju’s lyricsAnd, so it is with Buju Banton. It’s not about the energy he displays on stage or the rhythm in his songs. Like Marley before him, Buju sing songs, that unlike some politicians and religious leaders ease the pain of those often  marginalized by society. Buju offers hope to the poor, encouraging then to “Rule their Destiny.” He warns murderers who plague the society “You can hide from man, but not your conscience.”Like The words of Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Jr and Nelson Mandela, the words of Bob Marley and Buju Banton will be relevant far into posterity.Those who are more concerned with a presumed tainted reputation of Buju Banton, but never had the opportunity to hear his music and understand the message in his lyrics are advised to visit the Internet and read the lyrics of over one-hundred of Buju Banton songs.  Hopefully, they’ll then understand the entertainer’s phenomenal popularity, why his experience in America’s legal system seems irrelevant, and the reason for the enthusiastic “Reunion” between Buju and his thousands of fans. The answer lies in the lyrics.last_img read more

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