Americans have always played well on the beach, and there's another generation of quality volleyball players on the rise.
Stanford junior Evan Barry, teaming with USC junior Tony Ciarelli, reached the quarterfinals of the FIVB Junior World Championships in Alanya, Turkey before losing Saturday, in a marathon match, to Canada's 18th-seeded Garrett May and Sam Schachter in a 1 hour, 7 minute battle, 21-18, 19-21, 15-12. It was the tournament's second-longest match.
"We really stuck together through this and battled hard," said May. "It's really great to get this far but we are not done. We really want that gold medal."
Ciarelli and Barry, ranked 10th, won its first round match on Saturday with a 21-17, 21-7 victory in 34 minutes over Norway's 12th-ranked Svein Solhaug and Jonas Tomter.
The U.S. women's beach team of Tara Roenicke and 16-year-old Summer Ross will play for the gold medal on Sunday
Ross, with Jane Croson, won the girls' FIVB Youth World Championship in July.
"She's going to be a star," Ali Wood Lamberson, director of Beach Programs for USA Volleyball, said of Ross. "She could be the next Kerri Walsh. She is 6-2 and still growing. She has great hands and great shots, so as she develops and gets stronger as an athlete, she is going to be pretty scary."
This is the first time the United States has had a team reach the medal round at the beach volleyball Junior World Championships. The United States was the only country to qualify three teams into the quarterfinals in Turkey.
The U.S. Women's National Team will play Brazil in four friendly scrimmages in Maringa and Londrina, Brazil, during a training trip scheduled to begin Sunday.
The U.S. will play Brazil on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 at Maringa. After a day of travel to Londrina, the two teams face each other again on Sept. 28 and Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. Brazil Time.
USA coach Hugh McCutcheon will bring along Stanford grads Cynthia Barboza, Foluke Akinradewo and Ogonna Nnamani.
Stanford grad Kevin Hansen is one of 14 players named to the U.S. national team that will compete at the FIVB World Championships in Italy beginning next Saturday.
The group left Friday and will participate in several exhibition matches before opening the tournament against Mexico in Reggio Calabria.
Hansen will be joined at setter by Jonathan Winder. Hansen, who split starts at the 2010 World League with Donald Suxho, played in 32 sets and tallied 176 running sets and 553 still sets, good enough for 14th place among the league's best setters.