COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 17, 2022) – For the third time in three weeks, Chaim Schalk/Theo Brunner faced the Netherlands’ Robert Meeuwsen/Alexander Brouwer. For the third time in three weeks, the teams played three sets.

This time, at the 2022 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Rome, Schalk/Brunner won.

The American duo beat the Dutch pair, 2-1 (21-16, 16-21, 15-12) Friday to reach the World Championships semifinals. It’s their second international semifinal together – they won the Rubavu 2-star last season – and for Brunner, it’s the result of a lot of time in the sand.

“It means a lot,” he said. “This is such an unforgiving sport, and we have been working really hard. To get ourselves in a position to compete for a world title is awesome.”

They’ve been putting in overtime in Rome, too; five of their six matches at the World Championships have been three-setters. They’re 3-2 in third sets at the tournament with all three wins coming in the playoffs.

“We’re focusing on our side, taking care of what we need to and not getting too up and down,” Schalk said. “That steadiness is helping us make the plays we need to in the third sets.”

Brunner’s been in the World Championship semifinals once before, taking fourth in 2015 with Nick Lucena. Schalk previously reached the quarterfinals twice – both with Ben Saxton, his partner when he represented Canada – but never played a semifinal match.

On Saturday, June 18, at 8:15 a.m. Pacific, that changes when he and Brunner take on Brazil’s Vitor Araujo Goncalves Felipe/Renato Andrew Lima de Carvalho. The pairs have met twice already this year. They both won once.

Neither match went three sets.

One other American pair reached the World Championships quarterfinals: Kelley Kolinske/Sara Hughes. Playing in their fourth quarterfinal match of the international season, they faced Swiss pair Joana Heidrich/Anouk Verge-Depre. The Swiss team won, 2-0 (21-17, 21-18), ending the United States’ chance at a women’s world title.

“Fifth place finish at World Champs for us,” Kolinske said in an Instagram post. “Very proud of how we battled and how we fought in this tournament!”

Kolinske/Hughes have now reached the quarterfinals or better in four international tournaments this season. They entered the tournament at No. 12 in the world and the highest-ranked American women’s pair.

Schalk/Brunner are currently ranked fifth in the world. Their semifinal match will be streamed live on