COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A look at this week in beach volleyball, the top U.S. professional teams head for a two-week swing in Porec, Croatia and Gstaad, Switzerland. In the USA, the USAV Beach High Performance program and Junior Beach Tour prep for their upcoming championships.

The biggest news in beach volleyball is the return of the top American professional athletes to the FIVB World Tour. Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena will return in Croatia, after having last played on June 9, following Lucena taking time off to be with family due to the birth of his second child. Kerri Walsh Jennings made her debut in her first tournament since February, with new partner Nicole Branagh.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh lost their qualifier match to Brittany Hochevar/Emily Day on the opening day of the Porec 5-Star tournament. It was their first match together since they played in an FIVB tournament in August of 2012. This season, Hochevar and Day have torn through three qualifiers for three Top 10 finishes, and are looking to make this the second tournament with a high finish after coming out of a country quota showdown – which they did so in Moscow, finishing there tied for ninth.

In Porec, Dalhausser/Lucena are the No. 1 men’s seed overall, at 11 and 12 in the main draw are Casey Patterson/Theo Brunner and Jake Gibb/Taylor Crabb, respectively. In the women’s main draw are Brooke Sweat/Summer Ross, Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes and Lauren Fendrick/Lane Carico. Fendrick was originally scheduled to play the tournament with April Ross, but Ross is still recovering from an injury sustained two weeks ago.

FIVB Porec 5-Star Roster
Athletes    Coach Entry
Brooke SweatSummer RossTy TramblieMain Draw
Kelly ClaesSara HughesMain Draw
Lauren FendrickLane CaricoJon DazeMain Draw
Brittany HochevarEmily DayHector GutierrezQualifier/Country Quota
Kerri Walsh JenningsNicole BranaghMarcio SicoliCountry Quota
Phil DalhausserNick LucenaJason LochheadMain Draw
Casey PattersonTheo BrunnerRich LambourneMain Draw
Jake GibbTaylor CrabbMarcio SicoliMain Draw
John HydenRyan DohertyQualification
Phil NoyesUSAV Video Scout
Anthony DarmientoUSAV Strength and Conditioning
Wayne HuberSports Medicine, DC
Chip CarmichaelSports Medicine, DC, DACBSP
Tyler WiddisonScout

The High Performance zonal championships have concluded and now winning teams will make their way to the July 6-8 USAV Collegiate Beach Open, the national championship for the older age groups, and USA Junior Beach Championships, July 31-Aug. 2. The program’s Championship events will bring the four zones back together in competition for age-group titles, as well as the extended experience the athletes gain by playing through the pipeline. Programming in 2017 broke up the former Beach HP tryouts into a zonal format, focusing on four major skill assessment camps, then returning to the zones for A2 camps and then championships.

High Performance uses the camps to assess its junior beach national team programs annually, for teams that compete in tournaments like the 2017 FIVB U21 World Championships.

Only 13 tournaments remain on the Junior Beach Tour regular season schedule. The 13 events in 13 different lead up to the JBT Championships in Siesta Key, Florida, which run from July 20-25.

Nantong 2-Star
– Amanda Dowdy/Irene Pollock tied for ninth, their second consecutive ninth-place finish on the World Tour

NORCECA Ochos Rios
– Miles Evans/Bill Kolinske won silver, a career best NORCECA finish for both
– Karissa Cook/Katie Spieler won bronze, in Cook’s international debut
– Jace Pardon/Lara Dykstra and Jon Mesko/Skylar Del Sol tied for fifth, respectively