COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (December 11, 2021) – They started in the qualifier. Now, they top the podium.
Megan Kraft/Delaynie Maple of the U.S. Beach U19 National Team won the U19 World Championship Saturday, sweeping Olga Gavrilova/Alina Salmanova of Russia 2-0 (21-12, 21-17) to cap an unbeaten run in Phuket, Thailand.
“It’s hard to put into words how cool [being a world champion] feels,” Maple said. “It’s surreal right now. It’s very awesome to get to do this for our country.”
Joining Kraft/Maple in the top four were U19 National Team teammates Xolani Hodel/Kate Reilly, who took fourth.
Before going 8-0 and winning all but one set, Kraft/Maple weren’t officially in the tournament’s main draw. They had to beat a Spanish team December 6 in qualification just for a berth in pool play, for which they were seeded 27th.
They won their pool with a 3-0 record and the highest point ratio of the 32-team field.
That gave Kraft/Maple a bye to the Round of 16, where they rallied past a Dutch team, the only pair to take a set off the Americans. Another 2-0 win in the quarterfinals set up an all-American semifinal as Kraft/Maple faced Hodel/Reilly. Hodel/Reilly put up a fight, but Kraft/Maple advanced to the gold medal match, which they won handily.
This is the second U19 beach title for the U.S. Jane Croson/Summer Ross won in 2010.
Hodel/Reilly put up a tough fight in the bronze medal match. Facing Ukraine’s Anhelina Khmil/Tetiana Lazarenko for the second time in the tournament – both advanced out of Pool E – Hodel/Reilly kept in touch with the Ukrainians throughout much of both sets. The Ukrainians pulled ahead late in both to clinch bronze. Still, their fourth-place finish made it the first time that two American women’s pairs finished fourth in the same U19 championship.
“I’m proud of their growth throughout this tournament,” Jose Loiola, Hodel/Reilly’s coach, said. “We lost to a tough team, but they gave it their all.”
Two additional teams represented the United States at the U19 World Championships. Dylan Zacca/Adam Hartmann reached the Round of 24, and Gage Basey/Thomas Hurst competed in the qualifier. Kraft credits all of them for helping her and Maple win.
“We couldn’t have done it without our coaches and [team leader] Gabby [Garbato] and all our teammates and staff,” Maple said. “Big thank you to them. We’re just really happy and blessed.”
The Beach U19 National Team will now return stateside, but the U21 squad is in Phuket to compete in the FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships, which run December 14-19.
They Said It: Quotes from the Beach U19 National Team
- “It was an awesome opportunity to play for the U.S., especially with my buddy, Adam. I’d never played international before, so not only was the style of the tournament different, but the environment and styles we faced playing other teams were, too. It was an awesome experience. Unfortunately, it ended up a little short for us, but we can regroup, learn from those mistakes and focus on hopefully the upcoming tournaments.” – Dylan Zacca
- “It was fun playing our first international tournament, especially with Dylan. I’ve known him for quite a few years, he was my first real partner, so it was nice to get back to my roots. It sucks that we lost and our tournament ended short, but we know we can play better. It was fun playing our first international tournament, especially with Dylan. I’ve known him for quite a few years, he was my first real partner, so it was nice to get back to my roots. It sucks that we lost and our tournament ended short, but we know we can play better.” – Adam Hartmann
- “For not winning, it was the best first international match experience I could have had.” – Thomas Hurst
- “It was tough [to lose in the qualifier], but we had fun. It was cool getting out of the snow and coming out to play in Phuket, Thailand.” – Gage Basey
- “There’s something different about winning with USA on your chest, and it’s always fun to do it with your best friend!” – Delaynie Maple
- “I feel really secure after that. Kate was so locked in, it made it easy to play.” – Xolani Hodel after their opening pool play match against Canada
U.S. Beach U19 National Team Travel Roster
Name (Hometown, USAV Region, School)
Xolani Hodel (Huntington Beach, California; Southern California Region; Stanford)
Megan Kraft (San Diego, California; Southern California Region; USC)
Delaynie Maple (San Diego, California; Southern California Region; USC)
Kate Reilly (Manhattan Beach, California; Southern California Region; Stanford)
Name (Hometown, USAV Region, School (if applicable))
Gage Basey (Lyons Colorado; Rocky Mountain Region)
Adam Hartmann (Cooper City, Florida; Florida Region)
Thomas Hurst (Plano, Texas; North Texas Region; iUniversity Prep)
Dylan Zacca (Pembroke Pines, Florida; Florida Region)