COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 27, 2022) – U.S. beach pairs won two medals this week at the Beach Pro Tour Dubai Challenge No. 1, including the first men’s gold medal in a top-tier FIVB event since 2019.
In their second BPT tournament as partners, Miles Partain and Andy Benesh won eight straight matches to take the gold medal. According to volleyballworld.com, they are the first men’s team to start from qualification and advance to the top of the podium at an Elite 16 or Challenge event. Partain, 20, also became one of the youngest players to ever win at this level; he’s also a sophomore on the UCLA men’s indoor team under U.S. National Team Head Coach John Speraw.
“It’s really special that we started from the qualifier and battled all the way to get the gold medal. I think we did a really good job at taking it one point at a time,” Partain told Volleyball World after the final. “Now we get to celebrate for a couple of hours and then we are back in the qualifiers on Thursday. It’s an adventure. It’s a mystery and you never know how it’s going to go and that’s what makes it fun.”
The last U.S. men’s team to win gold at a top tier event was Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb, who won gold at the Chetumal four-star in November 2019.
Partain/Benesh defeated No. 3-seeded Sergiy Popov/Eduard Reznik (UKR), 21-15, 2-17 in the final. Benesh commended USA Volleyball while talking to VolleyballWorld after the match.
“I am very proud of our federation for doing a great job supporting us. We, the men, have been lacking a little bit and we are trying to find our way back on the map,” Benesh said. “We believe in ourselves. We always have that hope, but not really expecting anything. We are just taking it moment by moment. Obviously, we want to get to a certain level, but that’s going to come over time.”
Logan Webber/Evan Cory also had an outstanding tournament, advancing to the semis before falling to Pedro Solberg/Arthur of Brazil, 2-1 (15-21, 21-18, 15-12). Their fourth-place finish is their best as a team in three BPT tournaments. Taylor Crabb and last-minute partner Paul Lotman finished fifth; Chase Budinger/Troy Field did not advance out of pool play after earning silver in the Maldives just over a week ago.
On the women’s side, Katie Horton and Julia Scoles advanced from qualifying to the bronze-medal match, where they defeated Naraphornrapat/Worapeerachayakorn (THA), 26-24, 22-20, for the podium spot. The third-place finish came in only their second tournament as a team; they were 17th at the Maldives Challenge.
Xolani Hodel/Hailey Harward and Savvy Simo/Jessica Gaffney also had a solid tournament, with each pair finishing tied for fifth. Allie Wheeler/Deahna Kraft tied for 17th, Molly Turner/Maddie Anderson tied for 19th, and Jade Race/Violeta Slabakova tied for 33rd.
Next Up: Dubai Challenge No. 2
Nearly every team at Dubai No. 1 stayed to compete in Dubai No. 2. On the women’s side, Savvy Simo will be partnering with Deahna Kraft for the tournament (Savvy replaces Allie Wheeler), and Jessica Gaffney will not compete.
Chase Budinger/Troy Field
Logan Webber/Evan Cory
Taylor Crabb/Paul Lotman
Andy Benesh/Miles Partain
Xolani Hodel/Hailey Harward
Savvy Simo/Deahna Kraft
Katie Horton/Julia Scoles
Jade Race/Violeta Slabakova
Molly Turner/Maddie Anderson
Qualifying at Dubai No. 2 began today. On the men’s side, Benesh/Partain, Webber/Cory and Crabb/Lotman all advanced to the main draw to join Budinger/Field. On the women’s side, Turner and Anderson were already into the main draw, and they’ll be joined by Hodel/Harward, Simo/Kraft and Horton/Scoles from qualifying.