BEACH VOLLEYBALL Preview: Acid test for three U.S. women’s duos in Brazil four-star

Top seeds: Norway's Christian Sorum and Anders Mol

While the sport of beach volleyball was born in Southern California, Brazil has become one of its cultural centers, with a deep connection to the sport and a lot of success.

So the pressure will be on the Brazilian teams at Itapema (BRA) this week to repeat their success of 2018, when Evandro Oliveira and Andre Stein won the men’s division and Agatha Bednarczuk and Duda Lisboa won the women’s tournament. The top seeds:

Men:
1. Anders Mol/Christian Sorum (NOR) ~ 2018 World Tour Final champions
2. Grzegorz Fijalek/Michal Bryl (POL) ~ 2018 Las Vegas Open 4-star silver medalists
3. Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins (LAT) ~ 2018 Moscow Open 4-star winners
4. Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak (POL) ~ 2018 World Tour Final bronze medalists
5. Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen (NED) ~ 2013 World Champions

Women:
1. Heather Bansley/Brandie Wilkerson (CAN) ~ 2018 Poland Open 4-star winners
2. Agatha Bednarczuk/Duda Lisboa (BRA) ~ 2018 World Tour Final winners
3. Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes (CAN) ~ AVP Hunt. Beach Open runners-up
4. Alix Klineman/April Ross (USA) ~ AVP Huntington Beach Open winners
5. Barbara Seixas/Fernanda Alves (BRA) ~ Barbara: 2015 World champ; Fernanda: 2015 silver

In the men’s division, the top-seeded American pair is Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb at 14th. Casey Patterson and former NBA player Chase Budinger are in as Wild Card entries; they finished second at the AVP Huntington Beach Open, so it will be fascinating to see how they are against a top-quality international field.

Klineman and Ross scored an emotional win at the famed AVP Huntington Beach Open on 5 May, defeating Canada’s Pavan and Humana-Paredes. Will that translate into more success at the World Tour level? Americans Sara Hughes and Summer Ross are seeded seventh in the women’s tournament and Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman are seeded 10th. Brooke Sweat and Kerri Walsh Jennings are also in the tournament, but were not among the 24 seeded teams.

The tournament will finish with the medal matches on Sunday (19th). Look for results here.