TOKYO (July 23, 2021) – A balance of youth and experience combine to form the U.S. Olympic beach volleyball team for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Four pairs – two women’s, two men’s – will represent the U.S. at the beach volleyball event taking place at Shiokaze Park. Four of the eight beach athletes have prior Olympic experience, and Phil Dalhausser and Jake Gibb will each make their fourth appearance. Two players have medaled before: Dalhausser won gold in Beijing 2008, and April Ross took silver in London 2012 and bronze in Rio 2016. Nick Lucena is the fourth returner; he and Dalhausser finished fifth in Rio.
Four players will be making their Olympic debuts: Alix Klineman, Kelly Claes, Sarah Sponcil and Tri Bourne. Taylor Crabb would also have been a first-time Olympian.
Alix Klineman/April Ross
Klineman/Ross are the top-ranked team in pool B after finishing second in the provisional Olympic ranking. The duo earned three podium finishes on the FIVB World Tour this year, including gold at the season-opening Katara Cup. In their pool, they face two other teams from the Olympic ranking’s top 20: Sanne Keizer/Madelein Meppelink of the Netherlands (13th) and Liliana Fernandez Steiner/Elsa Baquerizo McMillan of Spain (20th). They start pool play Saturday, July 24 at 5 pm Pacific (July 25 at 9 am local) by facing China’s Xue Chen/Wang Xinxin.
Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil
After an incredible end to Olympic qualification that included two tournament wins, Claes/Sponcil vaulted themselves into an Olympic berth. At 25 (Claes) and 24 (Sponcil), the duo is the youngest U.S. beach volleyball team to compete in the Olympics. They’ll face another young duo from Latvia – Anastasija Kravcenoka (24)/Tina Graudina (23) – in their first pool play match, and then fourth-ranked Ana Patricia Ramos/Rebecca Cavalcanti Barbosa Silva of Brazil in their second. Claes/Sponcil finish pool play against Kenyan duo Gaudencia Makokha/Brackcides Khadambi.
Jake Gibb/Tri Bourne
The pair of Crabb/Gibb were the top-qualifying American men’s team, having finished 11th in the Olympic ranking. They earned two World Tour gold medals during the qualification period and are currently fourth in the world, but it’ll be the team of Gibb/Bourne taking the court in Tokyo. Crabb tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival and is ineligible for the tournament. Gibb/Bourne are making their competitive debut, and they’ll be tested in all three matches as all three opponents finished among the top 25 of the Olympic ranking, and Cherif Younousse Samba/Ahmed Tijan Janko of Qatar ended qualification third. The newly formed American pair will open play against Italy’s Adrian Ignacio Carambula Raurich/Enrico Rossi Sunday, July 25 at 6 am (July 25, 10 pm local).
Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena
Another tough group awaits the final American pair: Dalhausser/Lucena, who are the only American duo with two returning Olympians. This year, they’ll face two top-six teams during pool play: Alison Conte Cerutti/Alvaro Magliano de Morais Filho of Brazil (fourth) and Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen (sixth). Dalhausser/Lucena themselves finished 12th in the Olympic ranking after reaching the quarterfinals in five FIVB four-star tournaments this year and winning bronze at a tournament in Cancun. Rounding out pool D is Julian Amado Azaad/Nicolas Capogrosso of Argentina.
Dalhuasser/Lucena will be the first American duo to compete in Tokyo. They play Brouwer/Meeuwsen Saturday, July 24 at 5 am Pacific (July 24, 9 pm local).