Florida Just Fine for Six Remaining U.S. Beach Teams

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans | March 02, 2018, 10 p.m. (ET)

Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (March 2, 2018) – Florida has been kind to four of its beach volleyball-playing sons and daughter this week.

Out of three U.S. beach teams still competing at the Fort Lauderdale Major, an FIVB five-star tournament, three of the players have Florida roots.

Brooke Sweat, who grew up Estero, Fla., and partner Summer Ross had to get past their compatriots, Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes in Round 2 on Friday, 21-15, 21-13 to advance to the quarterfinals.

Although she is not from Florida, Ross said she enjoys playing in the state’s heat and humidity.

“I love the heat. I don’t pull any muscles,” Ross said. “I love the crowd out here. It’s so fun.”

Sweat and Ross went on to win Friday night’s quarterfinal match with Canada’s Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan, 22-20, 25-23. The match was filled with long rallies.

“We practice with them a lot in California so I wasn’t surprised,” Sweat said. “It was just a matter of staying steady and not getting discouraged on those long rallies.”

Sweat and Ross, seeded 13th, will play Brazil’s No. 9 Barbara Seixas de Freitas and Fernanda Alves in Saturday’s semifinal. Germany’s No. 24 Isabel Schneider and Victoria Bieneck will face Brazil’s No. 20 Taiana Lima and Carolina Horta Maximo in the other semi.

Top-ranked Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena not only grew up in Florida, but they both now reside in the state full time. They advanced to the quarterfinals by beating Brazil’s Gustavo "Guto" Carvalhaes/Vitor Felipe of Brazil, 21-17, 21-17.

“I thought we served well,” Lucena said. “If one of them got in a rhythm, we switched to the other guy. They are great volleyball players and they will figure out how to sideout.”

Dalhausser admitted that a ball hit at the side of his head had briefly obscured his vision, but added, “It got me pretty good but Nick was able to get me a good set off the net. Luckily I was able to put the ball away. Plays like that are a huge momentum shift.”

Dalhausser and Lucena will play Netherlands’ 11th-seeded Robert Meeuwsen and Alexander Brouwer in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

The 20th-seeded team of John Hyden and Theo Brunner also advanced to the quarterfinals with a 14-21, 21-19, 18-16 win over their U.S. teammates Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb.

Hyden and Brunner’s last three matches have gone three sets, which is something Hyden, 45, would like to address sooner rather than later.

“We’ve got to figure out to come out better in the first set,” Hyden said. “We can’t keep doing this where it takes a whole set to figure it out.”

Hyden and Brunner will play Brazil’s ninth-ranked Pedro Solberg and George Wanderley in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Nicole Branagh and Lauren Fendrick ended their run in Fort Lauderdale on Friday with a 21-16, 21-17 loss to Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Santos Lisboa of Brazil.