COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 18, 2022) – Easter Weekend was twice as nice to U.S. Beach National Team athletes as two American duos won medals on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour. Kelley Kolinske/Sara Hughes won the Itapema Challenge in Itapema, Brazil, and Andy Benesh/Miles Evans claimed silver at the Songkhla (Thailand) Futures.

In Brazil, Kolinske/Hughes capped an undefeated week by beating the Netherlands’ Raisa Schoon/Katja Stam, 2-0 (21-18, 21-18) for gold. The Americans won all six matches and 12 of 13 sets played en route to the tournament win, their first since teaming together.

“We fought so much and we’re so happy to bring the gold home,” Kolinske told Beach Volleyball World after the match. “Hopefully there are more of these to come. We know we can play any team in the world, and I am confident we can win multiple medals this season.”

Itapema was Kolinske/Hughes’ third tournament of the year. They began the season with a T-9th finish at the Tlaxcala Challenge and moved into T-5th at the Rosarito Elite 16.

The win also vaulted them to 26th in the FIVB World Rankings.

“This is just our third tournament together, but after working so hard in the offseason, it feels like we’ve been partners for years,” Hughes said. “To come home with the gold from this tournament really means a lot to our team.”

Four other U.S. pairs participated in the Itapema main draw. Chaim Schalk/Theo Brunner tied for fifth, Taryn Kloth/Kristen Nuss and Lauren Fendrick/Emily Stockman tied for ninth, and Terese Cannon/Sarah Sponcil took 17th.

Three more – Zana Muno/Toni Rodriguez, Tambre Nobles/Melissa Powell and Chase Budinger/Troy Field – took part in the tournament’s qualifier.


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Meanwhile, Benesh/Evans won the United States’ first men’s medal of the international season by taking second in Songkhla. The pair needed to win one qualification match before entering the main draw. Once in, they won their pool with a pair of 2-0 victories. During the quarter- and semifinals, they twice outlasted their opponents in three sets, including a 2-1 (17-21, 21-13, 21-19) battle against Surin Jongklang/ Banlue Nakprakhong of Thailand.

Benesh/Evans battled once again in the gold medal match, falling in the first set 27-25 to Italians Carlo Bonifazi/Davide Benzi. Bonifazi/Benzi won the second, 21-19, to hand the U.S. pair silver.

“Lost a tough one in the finals to a good Italian team, but proud of the way we fought through the conditions,” Benesh said in an Instagram post after the finale. “Great playing all tournament, [Miles Evans]!”

The podium finish is Benesh’s first Beach Pro Tour medal in four career tournaments. Evans now has five: three silver, one gold and one bronze.

Benesh/Evans each earned 180 world ranking points.

Joining them in Songkhla were Cody Caldwell/Adam Roberts, who also advanced through the qualifier. Caldwell/Roberts exited the main draw after pool play.

How do teams qualify for the Beach Volleyball World Championships?

Athletes qualify for the 2022 Beach Volleyball World Championships using three pathways:

  • The 25 teams per gender with the highest amount of FIVB Entry Points earn automatic berths
  • Four teams per gender per Continental Confederation earn bids via Qualification Tournaments
  • Three wild card teams per gender

Note: non-host countries may receive a maximum of four berths (excluding wild card berths)

Also over the weekend, Sarah Schermerhorn/Corinne Quiggle and Taylor Crabb/Taylor Sander competed at the NORCECA Beach Volleyball World Championship Qualification Tournament in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Both teams won their pools with 2-0 records April 16, but the semifinals and medal rounds April 17 were disrupted by heavy rains. Schermerhorn/Quiggle were able to finish their semifinal – a 2-0 (21-16, 21-14) win over Angel Williams/Ximena Nunez of Costa Rica – and advance to the gold medal match.

With that win, they put themselves in a stronger position to qualify for the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship in June. Should three or fewer U.S. women’s pairs qualify for the Championship via world ranking, Schermerhorn/Quiggle will have a berth.

Crabb/Sander were unable to play their semifinal contest due to rain. That round will be played at a later date, but gold medal matches for either gender will not be played.

The U.S. Beach National Team is back in action this weekend at the NORCECA Beach Tour stop in Aguascalientes, Mexico. The next Beach Pro Tour event is the Doha Challenge on May 5-8 in Doha, Qatar.