COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Volleyball’s top beach teams suffered early loses in Porec, Croatia, on the FIVB World Tour. The top American finishers tied for fifth in the first tournament of a big two-week road swing.

Two men’s teams and one women’s team tied for fifth at the Porec 5-Star tournament, the first 5-Star rated event since February. Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes were the best finishers among the American women, while Casey Patterson/Theo Brunner and Jake Gibb/Taylor Crabb shared the distinction among the men.

The U.S. looked strong heading into the event, with seven teams total competing in the main draw. Early on in the tournament, Brittany Hochevar/Emily Day topped Kerri Walsh Jennings/Nicole Branagh in a country quota match, 21-16, 21-16. In qualification, John Hyden/Ryan Doherty were eliminated in a three-setter to Germany, 21-19, 17-21, 15-11.

In pool play, USA surprisingly had rocky finishes as three teams finished with 1-2 records. Hochevar/Day were eliminated in pool, tying for 25th, while Brooke Sweat/Summer Ross advanced on the same record, as did Gibb/Crabb. Going a clean 3-0 were Claes/Hughes and Patterson/Brunner, earning both teams direct passage to the second round.

The first round of single elimination claimed Sweat/Ross, a staggering defeat for a team that logged three Top 5 finishes in their earlier tournaments. The pair fell 17-21, 21-16, 15-13 to Brazil’s Taiana Lima/Elize Maia. Round two did more damage to the USA depth of field. Lauren Fendrick/Lane Carico lost to the eventual gold medal winners from Canada, Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes, 21-12, 21-15 and Dalhausser/Lucena dropped to Brazil’s Gustavo Carvalhaes/Pedro Solberg, 21-10, 21-17.

Gibb and Crabb notched their second round win against Canada but were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Italy’s Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo, 21-17, 17-21, 15-11. Brunner and Patterson met a similar fate, falling to a different set of 2016 Olympic medalists, Alison Cerutti/Bruno Schmidt from Brazil, 21-12, 21-19. Prior to their quarterfinal loss, Patterson and Brunner were on a four-match winning streak, where they only dropped two sets.

The strength of the partnership of Claes/Hughes was on display, despite their loss in the quarterfinals to Switzerland, 21-19, 22-20. The pair earned their second fifth-place finish this season, improving on their 17th-place in June’s Moscow 3-Star.

The main draw U.S. athletes from Porec are all expected to play in next week’s Gstaad 5-Star tournament as well, July 4-9. It marks the last 5-Star competition ahead of the July 28 start of the FIVB Beach World Championships.

Porec 5-Star
– Tied for 5th: Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes, their second Top 5 finish on the World Tour since they graduated from USC in May; Casey Patterson/Theo Brunner, their second T5 finish this season; Jake Gibb/Taylor Crabb, the third time they’ve tied for fifth in four events during 2017
– Tied for 9th: Lauren Fendrick/Lane Carico, their second and best T25 finish in 2017; Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena, their lowest finish since May of 2016 (t17th)
– Tied for 17th: Brooke Sweat/Summer Ross, their earliest exit on the World Tour this year, but fourth T25 finish
– Tied for 25th: Brittany Hochevar/Emily Day, their sixth T25 finish in 2017, the most for a U.S. women’s team

FIVB Porec 5-Star Roster
Athletes    Coach Entry
Brooke SweatSummer RossTy TramblieMain Draw
Kelly ClaesSara HughesMain Draw
Lauren FendrickLane CaricoJon DazeMain Draw
Brittany HochevarEmily DayHector GutierrezQualifier/Country Quota
Kerri Walsh JenningsNicole BranaghMarcio SicoliCountry Quota
Phil DalhausserNick LucenaJason LochheadMain Draw
Casey PattersonTheo BrunnerRich LambourneMain Draw
Jake GibbTaylor CrabbMarcio SicoliMain Draw
John HydenRyan DohertyQualification
Phil NoyesUSAV Video Scout
Anthony DarmientoUSAV Strength and Conditioning
Wayne HuberSports Medicine, DC
Chip CarmichaelSports Medicine, DC, DACBSP
Tyler WiddisonScout