Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes with world championship trophy

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 15, 2023) – The U.S. beach team of Sara Hughes/Kelly Cheng won gold and Kristen Nuss/Taryn Kloth took bronze on Sunday at the FIVB World Championships in Tlaxcala, Mexico. Trevor Crabb/Theo Brunner finished fourth on the men’s side.

The gold medal guarantees the U.S. one women’s beach volleyball berth at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. To secure the slot, Hughes/Cheng need to finish as one of the United States’ top two ranked teams and top 17 overall in the Olympic rankings as of June 23, 2024.


Hughes/Cheng were the United States’ second-ranked team (and fourth overall) in the Olympic rankings heading into the World Championships. Nuss/Kloth led the U.S. rankings and were second overall before the World Championships.

In the final, Hughes/Cheng beat defending world champions Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa/Ana Patrícia Ramos of Brazil, 2-0 (21-16, 24-22). Duda/Ana Patricia did not lose a set in the tournament until the final.

“I’m just so thankful for Sara,” Cheng told Volleyball World. “I’m so proud of her and I just thank God for putting us back together. I’m very thankful to be here.”

Hughes/Cheng reunited late in 2022 to make an Olympic run. The pair competed together at the University of Southern California, helping the Trojans win national titles in 2016 and ’17. They competed together on the AVP and FIVB tours before splitting in 2018.

Hughes/Cheng are the third U.S. women’s team to win a world championship after Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh Jennings (2003, ’05, ’07) and Jen Kessy/April Ross (2009).

In the bronze medal match. Nuss/Kloth beat Australia’s Taliqua Clancy/Mariafe Artacho, who won the silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, 2-1 (15-21, 21-19, 15-8).

“I can’t thank Mexico enough, from the bottom of my heart,” said Nuss who earned the nickname ‘Chaparrita’ (shorty, in Spanish) from Mexican fans. “I love my new nickname and we’re definitely going to have a churro and probably a Margherita because it’s Mexico, so why not? We’re also very thankful for all the support we have back home.”

Nuss finished as the tournament’s top attacker and top digger. Cheng was second in scoring and third in attacking. Kloth was second in blocking. Hughes was third in digging.

In the men’s bronze medal match, Crabb/Brunner fell to Poland’s Michal Bryl and Bartosz Łosiak, 2-0 (21-17, 21-18). Crabb was third in the tournament in digging. Crabb previously finished fourth at the World Championships in 2019 with Tri Bourne. Brunner previously finished fourth at the 2022 World Championships with Chaim Schalk.

Final U.S. Results
1 Sara Hughes/Kelly Cheng
3 Kristen Nuss/Taryn Kloth
9T Terese Cannon/Megan Kraft
9T Julia Scoles/Betsi Flint
37T Alix Klineman/Hailey Harward

4 Trevor Crabb/Theo Brunner
5T Miles Partain/Andy Benesh
17T Miles Evans/Chase Budinger
37T Chaim Schalk/Tri Bourne