Behind the scenes with the USA athletes at USAvBRA

March 06, 2015, 6 a.m. (ET)
More from the athletes on ESPN:
Rio test event gives US beach volleyball stars glimpse of 2016 Games
Dalhausser: No excuses (OK, maybe a few), Brazil smashed us

April Ross on TeamUSA.org
Getting Acclimated To Rio
Sweating It Up In Rio
Learning and Growing In Rio
Til Next Time, Rio!

Feb 26

For Brooke and me this is a good test for us to see where we are with our preseason training. We have another couple months until season starts so we are happy to get this opportunity to compete, especially against some of the best teams in the world and on the same sand where the 2016 Olympic beach volleyball stadium will be! Today was a tough start for us. We lost a close one in the first set and a not so close one in the second, but we are excited to have the opportunity to bounce back tomorrow!
- Lauren Fendrick

So cool to play against Ricardo and Emmanuel in Brazil. Such a fun win for us. Casey came up clutch for us with an ace to win the match.
- Jake Gibb

Today was a good challenge for me and Lauren. We lost a close game this morning and then couldn't pull things together for our second game. We are taking it all in and anxious to get back to practice with our coaches and get better! Regardless, it's a great opportunity to play in Rio on the same beach the Olympics will be held on in 2016. The Brazilian players and fans are so passionate about beach volleyball - it's such a fun atmosphere!
- Brooke Sweat

This experience is huge for us. This is where the 2016 Olympics will be held and for us to play on the Copacabana sands, under the hot Rio sun, with loud Brazilian fans, is something you can't get anywhere else. We can take away mental pictures and use it during visualizations. Plus we will have to play Brazil in the Olympics so it gives us a taste of the atmosphere of what is to come in 2016.
- Emily Day

Our first match against Vitor/Alvaro we jumped out to an early lead and they never were able to catch up. The exact opposite happen to us in our second match against Ricardo/Emanuel, we had a slow start and never could catch up. Playing one set is tough because you don't have much time to adjust your game plan. Playing on one of the most famous beaches in the world in front of a Brazilian crowd is a lot of fun.
- Phil Dalhausser

Feb 27

This was a good test for us to see where we are at with our preseason training. We have another couple months until season starts so we are happy to get this opportunity to compete, especially against some of the best teams in the world and on the same sand where the 2016 Olympic beach volleyball stadium will be! We had two very close matches one that we won and one that we barely lost. We also had two very tough night matches where we did not pass very well. This was the first time we've played together at night and I think it is something that we will work on improving. We had a lot of positive moments together so we will work on being more consistent. We're honored to have gotten to come down to Rio to play in this event. The Brazilians have a passion for this sport and it was fun to play in front of such a great crowd.
- Lauren Fendrick

Today we built on yesterday, which was our first day of competition for the year. We knew it wasn’t going to be perfect. We keep getting better and work on doing what we’ve practiced so far this year. So far so good.

We’re lucky we have the bye [heading into the championship match]. The only way we’d get to go to the Christ the Redeemer statue is if we lost and we’re out of the tournament or win and have the bye on Saturday, play on Sunday. I really wanted to make the finals so we could get the best of both.

The water here isn’t as blue as the water back home. The atmosphere here is great. It’s one of the world famous beaches, especially for our sport. It’s cool to be on this particular beach. I loved it.

[Playing at this event is] historical for me. I’m playing with and against legends of the sport here on one of the most legendary beaches. It’s an honor to be here, I want to take advantage of this opportunity.
- Tri Bourne

It is very valuable to have Saturday off. I don’t know about Tri, I’m feeling beat up right now. We’ve got good physical therapists here, it’s nice to get work done on your body and have that day off to rest and recuperate. Hopefully we can come out and play like we’ve been playing lately.

This is my third time in Rio. The other trips were really fast. I was here once for Carnival, which was fun and got to stay down here for two days and have some fun. This is a great tournament, a great atmosphere. It’s fun that the whole U.S. is playing together, trying to win this thing. It’s a different type of tournament but it makes it fun for the players.

You don’t normally get to show up before and know where you’re going to be playing. To know this is the site for 2016, we hope we can get back here. Being here now is even more incentive.
- John Hyden

Feb 28

Had a blast in the Rio wildlife! 
- Lane Carico

The crowd will never be on your side. This is a great atmosphere whoever gets to go to the Olympics is going to have a lot of fun because this place is magical, it’s really cool. The sand is really good, jumpy. Obviously we have to remember that there can be no wind or 30 miles per hour. We’ll have to prepare for both of those and the ball is very sweaty, it’s like playing in the rain. If you’re going to hand set, hand set wet volleyballs because you’re going to have to do that because it’s so hot here. Being dehydrated is way more important than you think. Even playing just one set.

Things you have to adjust when playing here are the trifecta of sand, wind and heat. You have to prepare for those three things. The heat and wind, you have to be ready to play in gusty winds or none at all. The heat, go do some hot yoga [laughs].
- Casey Patterson

The "Melhores do Mundo" USA versus BRA exhibition was an excellent test for my partner, Brooke Sweat, and me to see where we are at with our preseason training. We have another couple months until season starts, so we are happy to get this opportunity to compete, especially against some of the best teams in the world on the same sand where the 2016 Olympic beach volleyball stadium will be!  We had two very close matches-- one that we won and one that we barely lost. We also had two very tough night matches where we did not pass very well. This was the first time we've played together at night and it is definitely something we will take home and work to improve upon. It was encouraging, however, to see some positive moments arise in our play. We executed some new things we had been working on in practice. Now our focus will be to be more consistent throughout. We're honored to have gotten to come down to Rio to play in this event. The Brazilians have a passion for this sport and it was really fun to play in front of such a great crowd.

Today, we traveled to Corcovado where the Cristo Redente statue stands looking over all of Rio. It was cloudy and we got rained on, but there were a few clear moments that made it all worthwhile. I found myself captivated by the power of the winds and the fast moving weather over the beautiful Rio landscape below and then I would turn and see a clear glimpse of Christ the Redeemer and I was just awestruck. I want to say it almost more special having to rough it in the rain a bit to catch a few clear glimpses. It's a nice parallel for life and sport: sometimes you have to suck it up during some rough patches to get what you want. It is this I will keep in mind as Brooke and I work to get back here in 2016 and represent the USA.
- Lauren Fendrick

March 1

Even though the exhibition didn't go as planned, we still had a week in Rio de Janeiro with a fun group of folks.  All the guys are pretty tight, (during the season we spend more time together than we do with our families) so if you don't get along, your summer will be miserable.  One of our favorite things to do in Brazil is go to Brazilian barbecue or a churrascaria.  This is a meat eater’s heaven, endless slabs of beef and lamb come by your table.  It's all you can eat so you can stuff your face until a vegetarian lifestyle seems like a possibility.  We went twice, probably one too many times, as I write this I'm recovering from last night’s carnage.

As far as sight-seeing went, the group went to checkout Christ the Redeemer.  It's the statue of Jesus on top of a mountain overlooking all of Rio.  We got really unlucky, there was a rain cloud sitting on top of the mountain and we could barely see his face standing at the base of the statue much less any of Rio.  Other than that we did a lot of cheering for our fellow country men and women.
- Phil Dalhausser