By Gary R. Blockus | March 03, 2018, 4:48 p.m. (ET)
Brooke Sweat (R) and Summer Ross celebrate at the Fort Lauderdale Major on March 2, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

 

Beach volleyball players Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross kicked off their 2018 season by winning the bronze medal at the Fort Lauderdale Major, a FIVB five-star tournament, on Saturday.

The 5-foot-8 Sweat, playing about two hours from where she grew up in Estero, Florida, responded to being back in her home state with some solid play throughout the tournament.

She and the 6-foot-2 Ross, who both live in California, surpassed their No. 13 seed and more, downing Germany’s Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider in the bronze-medal match 2-0 (21-17, 21-13).

Sweat, a 2016 Olympian, and Ross joined together in 2017 and earned a silver medal together on the FIVB World Tour. They also had AVP Tour podium finishes in 2017, including one victory.

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Sweat and Ross pulled off their biggest win in Fort Lauderdale with an upset win over No. 2 seed Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Canada 2-0 (22-20, 25-23) in a 44-minute quarterfinal match filled with long rallies on Friday night.

That victory sent Sweat and Ross to the Fort Lauderdale Major semifinals for the second straight year.

The American duo went to the bronze-medal match after losing 2-1 (18-21, 28-26, 21-19) to ninth-seeded Barbara Seixas De Freitas and Fernanda Berti Alves of Brazil in Saturday’s semifinals.

The men’s medals matches take place on Sunday.

Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games.