By Chrös McDougall | July 07, 2018, 2:28 p.m. (ET)
Summer Ross reacts, with Sara Hughes at net, during the main draw match against Josemari Alves and Liliane Maestrini of Brazil at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Itapema on May 17, 2018 in Itapema, Brazil.

 

Sara Hughes and Summer Ross finished third at the Espinho Open on Saturday in Portugal, claiming their first medal together on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.

The new partners came back after losing the first set to beat Poland’s Kinga Kołosińska and Katarzyna Kociołek in the bronze-medal game at the four-star event. The final score was 17-21, 21-13, 15-11.

“Sara’s a beast, she freaking carried me,” Ross said in a video released on the FIVB’s social media.

“No, Summer is great,” Hughes replied. “We just had to work together and we had to fire up and give it all we got, and that’s what we did.”

Hughes and Ross went 2-1 in pool play, losing in three sets to four-time Olympic medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and 2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh. They then swept through their next two opponents in the elimination rounds, including the U.S. team of Kelly Claes and Brittany Hochevar in round three, before falling 2-1 in the semifinals to Australia’s Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho.

That set up the bronze-medal game against Kołosińska and Kociołek. Clancy and Artacho went on to win the event.

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Hughes, the 2017 FIVB Rookie of the Year, joined forces with Ross in March following a seven-year partnership with Claes. The USC teammates won four college national titles, among other titles, before turning pro last year and claiming international medals.

Ross last played with 2016 Olympian Brooke Sweat.

Hughes and Ross won their first AVP title together last month in New York, but their previous best result on the FIVB World Tour was fifth, which they achieved in April in Xiamen, China.

The Espinho Open continues through Sunday with the men’s semifinals and medal round.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.