COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (November 8, 2021) – One era begins, and another ends this week as the U.S. Beach National Team concludes the 2021 FIVB World Tour with a four-star tournament on November 10-14 in Itapema, Brazil.
USA Volleyball will have four pairs each in the men’s and women’s draws. For the men, Itapema marks the first major international tournament in a long time without either Jake Gibb or Phil Dalhausser, who have both retired from international play (Dalhausser will play a few AVP tournaments in 2022).
Taylor Crabb, Gibb’s partner since 2017, turns to U.S. Men’s National Team outside hitter Taylor Sander for the Itapema 4-star. Sander, a two-time Olympian in indoor volleyball, will return to his Huntington Beach, Calif., roots and focus his efforts outside.
“I grew up playing beach, so it’s part of my life,” Sander told VolleyballMag.com. “I’ve always wanted to make the switch; it was just the right timing for me.”
Joining Crabb/Sander in the Itapema main draw are Chaim Schalk/Theo Brunner, who are the top-ranked American men’s team and seeded fifth overall. Schalk/Brunner have competed in all eight 4-stars this year and won the Rubavu 2-star in July. They also earned two medals in three AVP tournaments.
Two more men’s teams – Chase Budinger/Troy Field and Tim Brewster/Travis Mewhirter – will compete in the qualifier after advancing through the country quota last month in Manhattan Beach. Budinger/Field are ranked second in the qualifier, Brewster/Mewhirter are 17th.
Three women’s pairs will start play in Itapema’s main draw. Emily Day/Betsy Flint are the top-ranked U.S. duo at No. 6; they won the Brno 2-star and took second at the Manhattan Beach Open in August. Two relatively new pairings join them as Therese Cannon/Sara Hughes (second tournament together) and Corinne Quiggle/Sarah Schermerhorn (first tournament together) also earned main draw berths. Cannon/Hughes are seeded 12th, and Quiggle/Schermerhorn 24th.
Kim Hildreth/Megan Kraft round out the U.S. competitor list. The new partnership will begin play in the qualifier after beating Zana Muno/Delaney Mewhirter during last month’s country quota. Hildreth has played professionally since 2015 while Kraft is a sophomore at USC and a member of the U.S. Beach U19 National Team.
One men’s team from the 2020 Olympic Games will compete in Brazil – Argentina’s Julian Azaad/Nicolas Capogrosso – but three Olympians from Brazil will compete in new partnerships (Alison Cerutti, Evandro Goncalves Oliveira Junior and Alvaro Morais Filho), as will Spain’s Adrian Gavira Collado and Italy’s Daniele Lupo.
For the women, Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda Santos Lisboa, Argentina’s Ana Gallay/Fernanda Pereyra and the Netherlands’ Katja Stam/Raisa Schoon all competed in the Olympic Games as pairs. Brazil’s Rebecca Cavalcanti Barbosa Silva and Japan’s Miki Ishii played with other partners.
The Itapema 4-star will mark the end of the FIVB World Tour system for international volleyball. Next year, it will be replaced with the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour, which will put more emphasis on in-venue experience with music, food and the beach lifestyle.
Itapema Qualification takes place Wednesday, November 10, while the main draw starts Thursday, November 11.