Hughes competed in sand volleyball at University of Southern California after becoming the first high school player to declare that she would play sand volleyball exclusively in college. Her freshman season (2014), she won the AVCA National Championship with partner Kirby Burnham, finishing with a 42-4 match mark including 28 straight wins. Hughes was named AVCA All-American that season. As a sophomore (2015) she again won the AVCA National Championship, playing with Kelly Claes. They finished 44-3, winning the last 25 matches of the season, and Hughes once again was named as an AVCA All-American. Hughes completed a perfect junior season (2016), finishing 48-0 in matches and losing only one set with Claes. Her senior season (2017), they won the National Championship again and for the third straight year Hughes as named AVCA All-American.
In her first year (2017) on the AVP as a true beach volleyball professional (Hughes and Claes played in AVP tournaments during their college years but didn’t accept their winnings due to NCAA), Hughes won her first tournament at the AVP Gold Series // Championships in Chicago with partner Kelly Claes, becoming the youngest team to ever win an AVP event.