Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner with their gold medals
From left, Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 18, 2023) – U.S. men’s beach volleyball won a third straight international gold medal as Theo Brunner/Trevor Crabb took the title at the Pro Beach Tour Espinho Challenge on Sunday in Portugal.

Brunner/Crabb had to play in Thursday’s qualifier and won seven of eight matches at the tournament. In the final, they beat Austrians Alexander Horst and Julian Hörl 2-0 (21-16, 21-17). It was the third straight gold for U.S. men’s beach teams after Andy Benesh/Miles Partain won gold at the Elite 16 in Gstaad, Switzerland on July 9 and Evan Cory/Troy Field won the Helsinki Futures event on June 29.

It was the first international gold medal for Brunner/Crabb, who united as a team at the start of this season. Before Portugal, the pair finished fifth in challenge tournaments in La Paz, Mexico, Saquarema, Brazil, and Jurmala, Latvia, for their best results.

“It feels great,” Crabb told Volleyball World. “For both of us, it had been a while since we had last won an international medal, so we’re going to enjoy this one. It’s been awesome to play here in Espinho.”

Heading into the Espinho Challenge, Crabb had won three FIVB World Tour titles in 2018; two with John Mayer and one with Tri Bourne. Brunner had one international victory with Chaim Schalk at a 2021 FIVB World Tour two-star event in Rubavu, Rwanda.

“We’ve only been together for six months and we’ve been working so hard,” Brunner told Volleyball World. “We had a nice win last week in Hermosa Beach in similar conditions, with deep sand and some wind. We were a little bit nervous about the qualifier here in Espinho, but we made it through. We’re super happy, but also exhausted.”

Bourne/Schalk tied for fifth in Espinho. Taylor Crabb/Taylor Sander and Miles Evans/Chase Budinger tied for ninth. Evan Cory/Troy Field tied for 25th. Tim Brewster/Kyle Friend tied for 33rd.

On the women’s side, Megan Kraft/Emily Stockman tied for fifth. Julia Scoles/Betsi Flint tied for ninth. Savvy Simo/Toni Rodriguez and Zana Muno/Deahna Kraft tied for 25th. Brook Bauer/Katie Horton tied for 33rd.


Brunner/Crabb’s success in Espinho propelled them 20 spots up the men’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Ranking and they are now in number 26, the highest they have ever been as a team.

The Espinho gold earned Brunner/Crabb 800 points toward a new total of 3,820 points, making them the second highest placed U.S. men’s duo, after 10th-ranked Benesh/Partain.

Brunner/Crabb are now the best-placed American duo in the men’s provisional Olympic ranking in 11th, surpassing previous leaders Schalk/Bourne, who are now 14th.

The top two teams U.S. teams in the provisional Olympic rankings as of June 10, 2024, provided they are in the top 17 overall, will qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Among the women, Kelly Cheng/Sara Hughes are second in the Olympic rankings and Kristen Nuss/Taryn Kloth are fourth. Scoles/Flint are in 16th.


Eight U.S. women’s beach teams and six men’s teams are registered for the Edmonton Challenge event on July 20-23 in Canada.

Women’s Main Draw
Therese Cannon/Sarah Sponcil
Julia Scoles/Betsi Flint
Women’s Qualifier
Savvy Simo/Toni Rodriguez
Molly Turner/Maddie Anderson
Megan Kraft/Emily Stockman
Kelley Kolinske/Hailey Harward
Brook Bauer/Katie Horton
Zana Muno/Deahna Kraft

Men’s Main Draw
Chaim Schalk/Tri Bourne
Trevor Crabb/Theo Brunner
Miles Evans/Chase Budinger
Men’s Qualifier
Evan Cory/Troy Field
Taylor Crabb/Taylor Sander
Tim Brewster/Kyle Friend