In their first tournament together, the U.S. team of Brittany Hochevar and Kelly Claes won the silver medal at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Xiamen Open on Sunday.
The new duo fell in the championship match to Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes 21-19, 21-14, but it was an impressive debut, having advanced from the qualification tournament through to the final. The U.S. opened with the lead, but the more experienced Canadians, coming off a gold-medal performance at the Commonwealth Games 10 days prior, soon overpowered the Americans.
The silver medal was the first FIVB World Tour podium for both Hochevar and Claes.
Claes, 22, graduated from USC in 2017 and made her professional debut with longtime partner Sara Hughes in 2017. In seven years together, Claes and Hughes won a number of events including the World University Games championship, four NORCECA gold medals and four college national championships.
Hughes is playing with Summer Ross this season, while Claes joined veteran Hochevar, 36, who had her best season on the domestic AVP Tour in 2017 with three wins and two third-place finishes. Hochevar was playing with Emily Day last season.
Five U.S. teams entered the tournament and Claes and Hochevar were the only ones left standing on the last day. They defeated the Australian duo of Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy 21-19, 21-18 in the semifinals.