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April Ross And Nick Lucena Named Beach Volleyball Players Of The Year

By Darci Miller | Dec. 09, 2015, 2:39 p.m. (ET)

April Ross (L) and Nick Lucena have been named the 2015 USA Volleyball Players of the Year.

It was a rollercoaster of a year for U.S. beach volleyball teams, but the pre-Olympic year saw two players rise to the top. USA Volleyball this week named Nick Lucena and April Ross its 2015 Men’s and Women’s Beach Players of the Year.

Lucena overcame a mid-season partner switch to nab the award for the first time. He began the season paired with Theo Brunner, and the pair finished fourth at the world championships and earned bronze at the St. Petersburg Grand Slam. After eight tournaments, Lucena made the switch to his current partner, 2008 Olympic gold medalist (and five-time USAV Player of the Year) Phil Dalhausser. Lucena and Dalhausser had played together previously but not since 2005, however the pair found immediate success on the AVP Tour, finishing second at the Seattle Open and first at the coveted Manhattan Beach Open. When they hit the FIVB World Tour, they finished first in three events and second in four. The duo is currently ranked 18th in the world.

The inaugural award went to Dalhausser’s former partner Todd Rogers in 2007, followed by Dalhausser four times, Jake Gibb from 2012-13 and Dalhausser once again last year.

Ross’ award is her third in as many years and fifth all-time, coming after a season in which she competed with four different partners. Full-time partner Kerri Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic champion, sat out much of the season with a shoulder injury, but the two began the season with a third-place finish at the Fuzhou Open. The duo also medaled at the Long Beach Grand Slam, and finished ninth at the world championships. While Walsh Jennings was injured, Ross, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, competed on the FIVB World Tour with Whitney Pavlik, Jennifer Fopma (placing fourth at the Yokohama Grand Slam) and Lauren Fendrick (fifth place at the inaugural World Tour Finals). For her performance in 2015 Ross earned the FIVB Best Server award, as well as the AVP Tour’s Best Server and MVP Awards.

The women’s award went to Walsh Jenning's former partner Misty May-Treanor in 2007, 2008 and 2012, Summer Ross in 2010, and April Ross in 2009, 2011 and 2013-15.

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Nick Lucena

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April Ross

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