COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 14, 2013) – It was a day cast in bronze for the U.S. competing in the FIVB Beach Volleyball U19 World Championships in Porto, Portugal, as the teams of Sara Hughes/Kelly Claes and TJ DeFalco/Lucas Yoder both walked away with third-place finishes.
Ninth-seeded DeFalco (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Yoder (San Clemente, Calif.) lost a close semifinal match to No. 5 Moritz Reichert and Clemens Wickler of Germany, 21-19, 21-19. The tough setback had them playing in the bronze-medal match against Lukas Kazdailis and Arnas Rumsevicius of Lithuania, seeded No. 21. In what was tied for the longest match of the tournament at 48 minutes, DeFalco and Yoder earned a 22-24, 21-18, 15-8 victory to claim bronze.
After not being able to close out the first set, DeFalco and Yoder secured the second and got a big lead in the tiebreaker. After Yoder scored his eighth big block of the match at 14-7, DeFalco grabbed the bronze with a shot down the line.
The bronze medal is the first U.S. medal in the boys’ U19 World Championships since 2008 and the third medal overall.
“I am pretty stoked,” DeFalco said right after the final point in an FIVB press release. “It means a lot to me to win this medal since this is my first FIVB beach volleyball event.”
Reichert and Wickler won the top spot, and Norway’s Bjarne Nikolai Huus and Christian Sandlie Sorum netted silver.
After two upset victories on Saturday, No. 7 Hughes (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Claes (Valencia, Calif.) dropped their semifinal match to third-seeded Eduarda Santos Lisboa and Taina Silva Bigi of Brazil, 21-18, 21-17. Moving into the bronze-medal final, Hughes and Claes faced off against No. 4 Sarah Schneider and Lara Schreiber of Germany, who had defeated the other U.S. duo of Skylar Caputo (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and Delaney Knudsen (Santa Clarita, Calif.) 2-0 in pool play. Hughes and Claes battled to a 21-18, 19-21, 15-12 victory to earn the bronze medal.
Also fighting from behind, Hughes and Claes tied the second set at 19-19 before winning it and forcing a tiebreaking third set.
“I feel amazing," said Hughes, who finished fourth at the FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships last year with Summer Ross. “This is an awesome experience. It’s my first time on the medal stand. My partner helped me out a lot, this was a real team effort.”
Eduarda and Taina took home the gold medal, while Russia’s Anna Gorbunova and Nadezda Makroguzova earned silver.
For more information about the FIVB Beach Volleyball U19 World Championships, click here.