Graudina qualifies for Olympic Games

Film Room Friday: USC Blocker Tina Graudina Qualifies For 2020 Olympics

When Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes graduated USC as not only the winningest team in Trojan history, but in the entire sport of beach volleyball, it was fair to wonder how then-coach Anna Collier would replace the two.

It didn’t take long.

Promoted was Abril Bustamante, a physical dynamo who could block and play defense, jump serve and hit from essentially anywhere on the court. In came a Latvian recruit by the name of Tina Graudina, whom Collier had been recruiting since she was 14.

As freshmen, they went 31-2, and Graudina was named All-American and Freshman of the Year. The next year hardly went any different, with Bustamante and Graudina becoming one of the few sure wins in the sport.

Immediately after finishing runner-up at the NCAA Championships to UCLA, Graudina went directly overseas, competing for Latvia, aiming at a spot in the Tokyo Olympics.

On September 21, she earned it.

Graudina and partner Anastasija Kravcenoka beat the Czech Republic’s Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova 21-17, 15-21, 17-15 in Haiyang, China for a winner-take-all Olympic qualifying event.

With one win, Graudina, who will be redshirting this year for USC, punched her Olympic ticket. Enjoy the thrilling match on Film Room Friday, and congratulations to Graudina.