HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. (May 11, 2019) – The winners of the 2018 USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships came back stronger in 2019, thanks in part to international competition.

In Saturday’s women’s final, Claire Coppola/Kristen Nuss (in photo above) of Louisiana State University repeated as champions defeating Pepperdine’s Brook Bauer/Deahna Kraft, 21-18, 21-23, 15-12.

Adam Wienckowski repeated as men’s champion with new partner Tim Brewster as they beat Wienckowski’s former partner Jon Justice and his new partner Bryce Estes, 21-17, 15-21, 23-21.

Players on both winning teams competed internationally during the summer of 2018 thanks to their Collegiate Beach Championship victories. The athletes all agreed that the international experience contributed to their 2019 success.

Coppola/Nuss finished fifth at the World University Championships in Munich in 2018. They went on to lead LSU to the 2019 NCAA Championship semifinals and a third place in Gulf Shores, Ala., last weekend before winning on Saturday.

“It was super eye-opening for us,” Coppola said. “It showed us parts of our game that we need to work on and get better at to compete at that level. It showed us that there are different styles of volleyball out there. We’re used to playing Americans and the same kind of style. We saw a lot of crazy things, which was really good to grow our game.”

“International play definitely helped us a lot,” Nuss agreed. “Knowing we could go out and compete internationally really did a lot for our confidence.”

On the men’s side, Wienckowski/Justice finished 18th in Munich.

Brewster also got considerable international experience in 2018 at part of USA Volleyball’s Beach High Performance program, including being part of the U.S. team at the Youth Olympic Games where he and partner John Schwengel placed fifth.

This year, Brewster/Wienckowski have already competed in a NORCECA Tour event where they finished ninth. Later this summer they will compete at the FIVB U21 World Championships in Udonthani, Thailand.

“Those players are amazing. They’re huge, they’re strong, they’re mature; they have a lot more experience than we get here,” Brewster said of playing overseas. “It shows you what you really need to work on and, ultimately, how to compete at a high level.”

“They do all the little things right and they do it consistently,” Wienckowski added. “I think it shows how much work they put in and it lets us know that what we are doing probably isn’t enough.”

The work will continue for both teams this summer as they begin training as part of the U21 National Team.