MANHATTAN BEACH, CA — Ava Gallien of Manhattan Beach has signed a National Letter of Intent to play for USC on its beach volleyball squad. The Mira Costa High School senior joins Ava Kirunchyk of Redondo Union HIgh School and Colby Bennett of Mater Dei High School as part of the 2021-22 freshman class, said second-year head coach Dain Blanton on Friday, Nov. 20. USC beach volleyball is the three-time national champion.
"I'm excited to welcome these three outstanding athletes to our Trojan Family," Blanton said in a news release. "They are hard-working and accomplished individuals on the sand; and equally as strong in the classroom. As we continue to build our program and compete for championships, their contributions will be valuable to our team."
Gallien is the daughter of former USC women's tennis head coach Richard Gallien and has won three gold medals to open 2020 with U18 wins at USAV, AAU, and CBVA events in Manhattan Beach. She earned her AAA rating this year, has 18 top-five finishes and 12 gold medals. As a three-year member of the USAV Beach Junior National Team, she placed first at the 2017 and 2019 USA High Performance Championships. She is also a three-time honor roll choice at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach.
Kirunchyk, a Redondo Beach resident, won the 2019 AAU U18 Southern Pacific District championship and then went on to win gold medals at the ISF World Schools Championship in Italy and the U18 ISF Pan American Championships in Orlando. She received her AAA rating last year and has 15 first-place finishes at CBVA and AAU events since 2016. She is an honor roll student at Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach and helped her team win the 2019 indoor girls volleyball CIF Division I championship.
The Women of Troy went 6-5 in 2020, under Blanton, before the season was cut short and then cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trojans were competitive despite the losses and suffered each defeat by a narrow 3-2 margin.
A three-time national champion, USC finished as the NCAA runner-up in 2019 and claimed the program's third Pac-12 Championship with a dramatic 3-2 win over crosstown rival UCLA.