USA Volleyball Nominates Olympic Beach Volleyball Teams

July 18, 2008, 12:15 a.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 17, 2008) – USA Volleyball has announced the eight athletes and four coaches it will nominate for the U.S. Olympic Beach Volleyball Team that will compete at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, pending confirmation from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The women’s teams are Misty May-Treanor (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Kerri Walsh (Saratoga, Calif.) and Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) and Elaine Youngs (El Toro, Calif.). The men’s teams are Phil Dalhausser (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and Todd Rogers (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Jake Gibb (Bountiful, Utah) and Sean Rosenthal (Redondo Beach, Calif.).

May-Treanor and Walsh’s coach is 1988 indoor volleyball Olympic gold medalist Troy Tanner (California). Branagh and Youngs’ coach is 1988 women’s indoor volleyball Olympian Liz Masakayan (Santa Monica, Calif.). Dalhausser and Rogers will bring Bob Alejo (Santa Barbara, Calif.), the strength and conditioning director at UC Santa Barbara since 2005. Gibb and Rosenthal work with 1996 Olympic beach volleyball silver medalist Mike Dodd (Manhattan Beach, Calif.).

“USA Volleyball could not be more ecstatic about the quality of athletes comprising our Olympic beach volleyball team,” said Ali Wood Lamberson, USAV’s director of international and high performance beach programs. “Each of our teams has been on top of the FIVB podium at least once this year, and they are all set to peak in August.  No doubt it will be a very busy, very exciting Olympic Games.”

Beach volleyball teams qualify for the Olympic Games based on points gained at FIVB international tournaments starting on Jan. 1, 2007 and ending July 20, 2008.

On the women’s side, defending Olympic gold medalists and three time world champions May-Treanor and Walsh have the most points of any beach volleyball team, national or international, and had enough points to qualify at the end of 2007.

Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) and Elaine Youngs (El Toro, Calif.) had a tougher road and were pressured by their compatriots Jen Boss (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.)/April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Tyra Turner (Fort Myers Beach, Fla.)/Rachel Wacholder (Redondo Beach, Calif.) until almost the end of the qualifying period.

Branagh and Youngs gained enough points to be the No. 2 U.S. women’s team with a silver-medal at the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slam event on July 5 in Moscow, finishing 320 points ahead of Boss and Ross. They are ranked fifth among all qualified teams.

“I am both honored and thrilled to be representing the USA in Beijing this summer,” Branagh said. “This is a dream come true! I would not be here today if it were not for the support and encouragement of my teammate EY, coach Liz Masakayan, family and friends. They have been with me every step of the way and I am truly blessed. I look forward to Beijing and what lies ahead.”

Beijing will mark a third Olympic Games for May-Treanor, Walsh and Youngs. Youngs played with the women’s indoor volleyball team that finished seventh in 1996, and then won a bronze medal in beach volleyball with then partner Holly McPeak (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

"I've had the good fortune to have experienced my share of memorable athletic accomplishments during my career in beach volleyball -- plenty of great matches in front of passionate crowds -- but I can assure you that nothing compares to the energy and intensity of the Olympics," Youngs said. 

"I've had the chance to experience the Olympics as a player both indoor on the court and on the beach and those are memories I'll cherish forever, foremost of which was standing on the medals podium in Athens. Nicole and I worked incredibly hard this season to earn the right to call ourselves Olympians. We're so proud to be representing the U.S. in Beijing and we're determined to show the world that we deserve to be there!"

Walsh played with the 2000 women’s indoor volleyball team that finished fourth in Sydney before winning a gold medal with May-Treanor in Athens.

May-Treanor competed at the 2000 Olympic Games in beach volleyball with McPeak. The pair finished fifth. Athens was May-Treanor’s second Olympic Games.

Branagh will be a first-time Olympian in Beijing.

On the men’s side, 2007 world champions Dalhausser  and Rogers are the No. 1 U.S. team and also lead all teams in qualifying points thanks to four-straight podium finishes, including three gold medals, at SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slam events in June and July.

Gibb and Rosenthal had to keep an eye on the U.S. team of Casey Jennings (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Matt Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.) as it made a late charge, but ended up with enough top finishes to be nominated to the No. 2 slot.

“This is my first Olympics so I’m super excited and working my butt off so I can represent us well,” Gibb said.

None of the U.S. men’s players has prior Olympic experience.

Although both May-Treanor/Walsh and Dalhausser/Rogers have the most Olympic qualifying points, both teams could end up as the second seeds because of an FIVB rule that says if the host country has a team among the top six, then that team will be the top seed.

China has two women’s teams among the top six, so Jia Tian and Jie Wang, who are second overall behind May-Treanor and Walsh, will most likely get the top seed. The Chinese men’s team of Linyin Xu and Penggen Wu is sixth among all the men’s teams and will most likely get the top seed.

2008 USA Men’s Olympic Volleyball Team Quick Facts

Name (Height, Age, Hometown, College)

Nicole Branagh (6-2, 29, Orinda, Calif., University of Minnesota)
Misty May-Treanor (5-9, 31 on July 30, Costa Mesa, Calif., Long Beach State)
Kerri Walsh (6-3, 30 on Aug. 15, Saratoga, Calif., Stanford)
Elaine Youngs (6-0, 38, El Toro, Calif., UCLA)

Phil Dalhausser (6-9, 28, Ormond Beach, Fla., University of Central Florida)
Jake Gibb (6-7, 32, Bountiful, Utah, University of Utah)
Todd Rogers (6-2, 34, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Santa Barbara)
Sean Rosenthal (6-3, 28, Redondo Beach, Calif., no college)

Past Olympic Beach Volleyball Results

Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games

Men’s Gold Medal - Karch Kiraly/Kent Steffes, USA def. Mike Dodd/Mike Whitmarsh, USA, 12-8 and 12-5 (62 minutes); Bronze Medal - John Child/Mark Heese, Canada def. Joao Brenha/Luis Maia, Portugal, 12-5 and 12-8 (77).
Women’s Gold Medal - Sandra Pires/Jackie Silva, Brazil def. Monica Rodrigues/Adriana Samuel, Brazil, 12-11 and 12-6 (69); Bronze Medal - Natalie Cook/Kerri Pottharst, Australia def. Barbra Fontana/Linda Hanley, USA, 12-11 and 12-7 (111).

Sydney 2000 Olympic Games

Men’s Gold Medal – Dain Blanton/Eric Fonoimoana def. Zé Marco and Ricardo Costa, Brazil, 12-11 and 12-9 (101 minutes); Bronze Medal – Jorg Ahmann/Axel Hager, Germany def. Joao Brenha/Luis Maia, Portugal, 12-9 and 12-6 (70).
Women’s Gold Medal – Natalie Cook/Kerri Pottharst, Australia def. Shelda Bede/Adriana Behar, Brazil, 12-11 and 12-10 (75); Bronze Medal - Sandra Pires/Adriana Samuel, Brazil def. Mika Saiki/Yukiko Takahashi, Japan, 12-4 and 12-6 (53).

Athens 2004 Olympic Games

Men’s Gold Medal – Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos, Brazil def. Javier Bosma/Pablo Herrera, Spain 21-16, 21-15 (43 minutes); Bronze Medal – Patrick Heuscher/Stefan Kobel, Switzerland def. Julien Prosser/Mark Williams, Australia, 19-21, 21-17, 15-13 (61).
Women’s Gold Medal – Misty May/Kerri Walsh, USA def. Shelda Bede/Adriana Behar, Brazil, 21-17, 21-11 (42); Bronze Medal – Holly McPeak/Elaine Youngs, USA def. Natalie Cook/Nicole Sanderson, Australia, 21-18, 15-21, 15-9 (71)