The U.S. will send the maximum number of eight men’s and women’s teams allowed to the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships beginning July 28 in Vienna, Austria. Those teams include a whopping nine Olympians with seven medals between them.
Among those competing will be Olympic gold medalist Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, who are currently ranked No. 1 in the world, and three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings and Nicole Branagh, who last played together in 2012.
Also representing Team USA in the championships will be No. 12 Casey Patterson and Theo Brunner, No. 13 Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb and No. 19 John Hyden and Ryan Doherty on the men’s side. No. 5 Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross, No. 8 April Ross and Lauren Fendrick and No. 20 Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes will compete in the women’s tournament.
All eight teams will be making their world championships debuts as partners, although several individuals have competed and won before with different teammates. Walsh Jennings did so with Misty May-Treanor in 2003, 2005 and 2007, and April Ross won in 2009 with Jennifer Kessy. Dalhausser won in 2007 with then-partner Todd Rodgers as the only U.S. men ever to take world gold.
Nine U.S. women’s teams and six men’s teams applied for entry into the championships. Event organizers and the FIVB chose the 48 men’s and 48 women’s teams that will play based on rankings, wild cards and, lastly, continental confederations. Walsh Jennings and Branagh secured one of four NORCECA nominations.
Dalhausser and Lucena won their second medal of the season on Sunday in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event in Moscow. The top-ranked U.S. women’s pairing of Sweat and Ross, who only teamed up this season, won their first medal as a team, a silver, in the same event.