U.S. Olympic Beach Volleyball Team Preview

Full Pre-Olympic Press Kit | Updated Notes Aug. 16

Rio de Janeiro's iconic Copacabana Beach will serve as the site of the beach volleyball competition at the 2016 Olympic Games. The U.S. Olympic Beach Volleyball Team will look to continue its storybook history of taking the gold, which saw Americans reach the top of the podium at every Olympic Games since beach volleyball was added to the Olympic program in 1996.

This time around, the United States is sending two men's and women's teams to the Olympics that are new partnerships in the quadrennial. Among the 24 teams per gender at the Olympics, 2008 Gold Medalist Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena will be seeded third in the men's competition. The pair led the World Tour in 2016 with an 88.5-win percentage and are 34-15 against Olympic qualified teams.

Two-time Olympian Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson were close behind their compatriots in the rankings and will enter the Olympics seeded sixth overall. The pair are 45-41 against Olympic qualified teams and have continued to have success in tournaments leading up to the Olympics.

April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings battled through Walsh Jennings' shoulder injury and recovery to gain the top American spot in the rankings, finishing qualification with the third seed for the Games. In their last three events of qualification, the duo won gold on three occasions and they currently sit with an impressive 60-17 record against Olympic qualified teams. Ross and Walsh Jennings make up the only pair on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Beach Volleyball Team where both partners have Olympic experience, Ross a 2012 Silver Medalist and Walsh Jennings, a four-time Olympian and three-time Gold Medalist.

Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat will be making their Olympic debut together and as the only U.S. duo in 2016 where both partners are debuting at the Games. The pair secured their berth at the final event of Olympic qualification and will enter the Olympics as the 15-seed. Against a similar field to the Olympic competition, Fendrick and Sweat finished fifth at the 2015 FIVB Beach World Championships.

Each nation can send up to four teams to the 2016 Olympic Games, two per gender. Selection to the U.S. team was based on the pairs' results in FIVB international events and Olympic qualifying rankings.

ATHLETE NOTES

Phil Dalhausser
Dalhausser started the Olympic qualification season with Sean Rosenthal as a partner, but switched to Nick Lucena in August 2015. With Lucena, the 2008 Olympic champion will be seeded third at the 2016 Olympics. The Rio 2016 Games would mark his third Olympics and first without Todd Rogers.

Jake Gibb
Gibb and partner Casey Patterson will be seeded sixth at the Olympics in Gibb's third and Patterson's first appearance at the Games. Gibb finished fifth in 2012 and 2008, both with Sean Rosenthal. He partnered with Brigham Young University alum Patterson, giving them the Utah connection. The pair finished fifth at the 2015 World Championships. He is a two-time cancer survivor as he has a scar on his shoulder left from a bout with skin cancer in 2004.

April Ross
Ross, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist, enters the Rio Olympics with a partner Kerri Walsh Jennings. The pair will be seeded third at the Olympics. At the time of officially qualifying for the 2016 Olympics on June 12, 2016, the pair had a 53-14 record against the Olympic qualified field.

Kerri Walsh Jennings
Four-time Olympian and three-time gold medalist, Walsh Jennings is on her way to her fifth Olympics and fourth on the sand. She injured her right shoulder on multiple occasions during the 2015 season, which cut the qualification season short for her and partner April Ross. She received her fifth shoulder surgery in September 2015 to repair a torn labrum and torn capsule and made a complete recovery to finish qualification with Ross to be seeded third at the 2016 Olympics. She is married to professional beach volleyball player Casey Jennings, and together, they have three children.

STORYLINES

  • All four pairs on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Beach Volleyball Team are new partnerships to the quad
    - Ross/Walsh Jennings joined in 2013
    - Fendrick/Sweat joined in 2014
    - Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena joined in 2015
    - Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson joined in 2013
  • The U.S. has won gold at every Olympic beach volleyball showing, either in men's or women's, since the sports inception in 1996.
  • The U.S. has won three of the five gold medals in beach volleyball Olympic history, for both men and women. USA has the most gold out of any country and a total of nine medals, Brazil leads the medal count with 11.
  • Kerri Walsh Jennings is making her fifth Olympic appearance – her fourth on the sand and first without long-time partner Misty May-Treanor. With May-Treanor’s exit from international competition after the duo’s remarkable three-consecutive Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008, 2012), Walsh Jennings is now partnered with 2012 silver medalist April Ross. The duo is coached by Rio de Janeiro native and Pepperdine beach volleyball assistant coach Marcio Sicoli.
  • For the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Kerri Walsh Jennings is going for her fourth gold medal, which would make her just the third American ever to win four gold medals in one event for a team sport. If Walsh Jennings wins any type of medal, she will be the most decorated beach athlete, male or female, in the sport. She is currently tied with long-time partner Misty May-Treanor with three gold medals, and Brazil’s Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos, who each have one gold, silver and bronze medal.
  • Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross lead the World Tour for most team earnings for either gender, with $174,000 (as of June 12, 2016). On the World Tour, winnings for placements (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. respectively) are the same for both genders.
  • The U.S. own the distinction of having the two oldest players, male and female, in beach volleyball at the 2016 Olympics. Jake Gibb (40) and Kerri Walsh Jennings (37, birthday Aug. 15).
  • Of the 34 players (17 men and 17 women) at the Olympics in beach volleyball, two have won Olympic gold medals – Phil Dalhausser and Kerri Walsh Jennings. Three have silver (April Ross; Alison Cerutti, Brazil; Pablo Herrera, Spain). Two are four-time beach Olympians (Walsh Jennings and Pablo Herrera, Spain)