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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 6, 2019) – The U.S. women’s beach team of Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil took silver on Sunday at the first FIVB World Tour event of 2019 in The Hague, Netherlands.

Their U.S.  teammates, Alix Klineman and April Ross, who won the tournament as a new team in 2018, finished fourth.

Casey Patterson and Chase Budinger had the best finish for the U.S. men, finishing tied for ninth. It was Budinger’s best international finish since he retired from professional basketball to play beach volleyball.

Claes and Sponcil, seeded seventh, fell to Brazil’s third-seeded Ana Patricia and Rebecca in the final, 21-10, 21-19.

“It was a tough one,” Claes said of the finals. “They’re a really great team. It’s disappointing to come this far and come up short. It’s showing us that we have a lot of potential and that we have a lot to focus on and go back to the drawing board and work on a lot of things.”

All FIVB tournaments in 2019 earn teams points toward Olympic qualification.

In the semifinal, Claes and Sponcil beat Finland’s 12th-seeded Taru Lahti and Anniina Parkkinen (21-19, 18-21, 15-8). Lahti and Parkkinen beat Klineman and Ross in the bronze-medal match (15-21, 21-13, 15-6).

Claes and Sponcil went 1-1 in pool play and had to win a first-round match against No. 20 Mariia Bocharova and Maria Voronina of Russia to advance.

In the second round, they beat their 11th-seeded U.S. teammates Emily Day and Betsi Flint (13-21, 21-19, 15-9) and in the third they beat Spain’s 13th-seeded Liliana Fernández Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan (21-19, 25-23).

U.S. Results in The Hague

2 Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil
4 Alix Klineman/April Ross
9T Emily Day/Betsi Flint
9T Brooke Sweat/Kerri Walsh Jennings
17T Kelly Reeves/Brittany Howard

9T Chase Budinger/Casey Patterson
17T Miles Evans/Bill Kolinske
25T Theo Brunner/Reid Priddy
DNQ Jeremy Casebeer/Eric Zaun