Beach Teams Open at U21 and University Champs

By Jessica Hall | July 24, 2014, 4:53 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 24, 2014) – The U.S. beach volleyball team of Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes went 2-0 in pool play on Thursday in the U21 World Championships in Larnaka, Cyprus.

Hughes (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Claes (Placentia, Calif.), seeded No.12 in the main draw, opened pool play with a victory over China’s No. 25 Meimei Lin and Ningya Tang, 21-18, 21-17. They later beat Benin’s No. 24 Sodji Gnondenou and Ballovi Honorine, 21-3, 21-7, in 36 minutes.

The U.S. beach team of Alexa Strange (San Clemente, Calif.) and Delaney Knudsen (Valencia, Calif.) fell to Switzerland’s No. 7 Nina Betschart and Nicole Eiholzer, 21-14, 21-17, 16-14, and later upset Cyprus’s No. 6 Vasiliki Chatzikonstanta and Katerina Zakchaiou, 21-5, 21-17.

On the men’s side, No. 26 Hagen Smith (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) and Christopher Orenic (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) finished day one of pool play 1-1. The duo defeated Latvian’s No. 11 Maris Lancmanis and Vlads Smirnovs, 22-20, 21-15, and later fell to Brazil’s No. 2 Andre Loyola Stein and Vinicius Rezende Costa Freitas, 21-11, 21-15.

Branden Clemens (Carmel, Ind.) and Jackson Bantle (Pacific Palisades, Calif.), seeded No. 9, defeated Sierra Leone’s No. 28 Patrick Lombi and Abu Bakarr Kamara, 21-14, 21-13, and later fell to Germany’s No. 21 Niklas Rudolf and Max Betzien, 21-17, 21-15.

Pool play will continue on Friday and Saturday.

World University Championships

Four U.S. beach volleyball teams started competition in the Seventh World University Championships in Porto Portugal on Wednesday.

The U.S. beach team of Brittany Tiegs (Stuart, Fla.) and Jace Pardon (Manhattan Beach, Fla.), competing in pool K, fell to Poland’s Soja and Filip, 21-13, 21-19, 15-13, and later defeated Brazil’s Maximo and Ferreira, 21-19, 21-23, 15-11.

The duo of Angela Bensend (Plano, Texas) and Aurora Davis (Groveland, Fla.), competing in pool J,  dropped their first match to Germany’s Behrens and Seyfferth, 21-19, 21-15, 10-15, followed by a bye.

On the men’s side, Connor Hughes (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Miles Evans (Santa Barbara, Calif.), competing in pool E, went 2-0 on the first day. The duo defeated Portugal’s Pinto and Silva, 21-16, 21-14, and beat Germany’s Schmumann and Stork, 21-16, 21-14.

Their U.S. teammates, Marty Lorenz (Spokane, Wash.) and Jeff Carlson (Newport Beach, Calif.), competing in pool B, fell to Germany’s Holler and Schroder in their first match, 21-15, 21-15. The duo later defeated China’s Zhu and Hu, 21-15, 21-18.

Pool play concludes on Thursday.