U.S. Beach Teams Win Gold, Silver

By BJ Evans | July 20, 2014, 10:36 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 19, 2014) – The U.S. beach team of Morgan Martin and Kathryn Plummer defeated compatriots Joy Dennis and Haley Hallgren, 20-22, 21-18, 15-13 on Sunday to win the gold medal at the inaugural FIVB Under-17 Beach Volleyball World Championships in Acapulco, Mexico.

Plummer was selected as the women’s Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

The third deciding set was titanic as the two friendly rivals sparred back and forth. Martin and Plummer building an early lead at 6-3. Halgren and Dennis tied it at 7-7 before the more ‘veteran’ of the two teams slowly inched away. Halgren and Dennis saved one match point to pull within one at 13-14, but Martin ended it all on the next rally for point, set and match with a cross-corner kill.

“We train with them often and have played against them, but nothing compares to this feeling of winning the FIVB U17 World Championship against them in Acapulco," Martin said. "It was a hard match, which we expected. But even when we got behind I tried to just concentrate on each individual point. We an honor to be able to represent the United States, our home, in an international event like this and we wouldn't be here without the support, training and encouragement of USA Volleyball.”

Plummer added: “Believe it or not, I predicted that we would win the final set 15-13 to give us the gold medal and this very historic FIVB U17 gold medal. We know Haley (Hallgren) and Joy (Dennis) so well we dreamed it would be our two teams in the final and it was. Then my prediction came to pass because we are playing at just the same level now we hit a few shots we don’t normally even try and most of them worked. That was the difference.”

In Sunday’s semifinals, Martin (Mission Viejo, Calif.) and Plummer (Aliso Viejo, Calif.), seeded No. 29  came out strong, but had to use grit and determination to hold off the comeback charge by Latvia’s Tina Graudina and Linda Gramberga eventually taking the three-set victory, 21-15, 17-21, 15-12 in 51 minutes to earn their spot in the women’s final.

Hallgren (South Lake, Texas) and Dennis (Cypress, Calif.), seeded No. 28, held off the strong challenge from Turkey’s Duygu Nur Dogan and Pelin Ilgin, winning in two sets, 21-17, 21-19 in 32 minutes to claim their place in the women’s gold medal match.

Martin and Plummer finished with an 8-0 record. They also won their pool with a perfect 4-0 record before defeating teams from Mexico, Poland and then Latvia in the elimination rounds to book their ticket to the gold medal match.

Hallgren and Dennis finished 6-2, losing in pool play to a team from Russia in three sets and in the elimination rounds, defeating teams from England, Boliva and Turkey.

Both U.S. boys' beach teams competing in Acapulco – No. 5-seeded Will Bantle (Oakland, Calif.) and Robert Mullahey (Los Angeles, Calif.) and No. 16-seeded Lucas Lossone (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Aidan Brown (Santa Fe, N.M.) – finished tied for ninth after losing in the second round.