UH sand volleyball duos fall in pairs bracket

The University of Hawaii` pair of Karissa Cook and Brittany Tiegs made a thrilling run in the 2014 AVCA Sand Volleyball Pairs Championship on Sunday, before falling in the finals to the USC tandem of Kirby Burnham and Sarah Hughes 21-15, 21-13.

The third-seeded Cook and Tiegs won three straight matches to make it to the national finals-a first for a UH pair-but then ran into a buzz saw in the No. 4 seed USC pair. It was the second straight national title for Burnham, who paired up with Stevi Robinson to win the 2013 AVCA  title. Cook and Tiegs, meanwhile, finished their outstanding season with a 38-6 overall record.

The day didn't start easy for Cook and Tiegs who needed three sets to get by in both their Round of 16 (vs. LBSU's No. 14 seed Delainey Aigner-Swesey and Bojana Todorovic) and quarterfinal (vs. Pepperdine's No. 6 seed Becca Strehlow and Lara Dykstra) matchups.

In the semifinals, the pair faced the No. 2 seed Jace Pardon and Aurora Davis of Florida State. Cook and Tiegs seemed to hit their stride then, avenging its bitter three-set loss to the Seminole pair in Saturday's semifinal dual match by winning in straight sets, 21-18, 21-16.

The UH tandem moved on to the finals to play a familiar foe in Burnham and Hughes. Cook and Tiegs won two of the three previous meetings, including a close two-set victory on Friday in UH's win over USC in the team competition. This time, however, it was all USC as Burnham and Hughes pulled away in the first set and took that momentum into a second set that was never really close.

Nikki Taylor and Katie Spieler also competed in the pairs championship as the No. 12 seed. The tandem advanced to the quarterfinals with a win over Long Beach State's Tyler Jackson and Janisa Johnson, before bowing out to Burnham and Hughes in straight sets. Taylor and Spieler finished the season with a stellar 35-13 mark.

By advancing to the quarterfinals of the pairs championship, both TIegs and Cook and Spieler and Taylor were awarded AVCA All-America honors. Tiegs is now a two-time All-American after first receiving the honor in 2012 as a member of Florida State.