Since its introduction as an Olympic sport at the 1996 Atlanta Games, beach volleyball has grown in popularity and is expected to be a highlight of the Tokyo Olympics.
Each of the Team USA duos will aim to add to the United States’ impressive beach volleyball medal count of 10. Two-time Olympian April Ross is teaming up with Alix Klineman, while Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil will make U.S. history as the youngest beach volleyball pair to compete. Tri Bourne will make his Olympic debut alongside four-time Olympian Jake Gibb, while Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena will be the only duo on this year’s roster to have competed together at the Games before.
Let’s get into everything to know about beach volleyball at the Tokyo Olympics:
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Who is competing for Team USA in beach volleyball?
There will be four duos -- two men’s and two women’s -- competing for the United States in the beach volleyball tournaments in Tokyo.
The U.S. teams will make history in a few ways: they feature both the youngest American team to ever compete and the oldest male athlete in beach volleyball’s Olympic history. Let’s get to know the duos representing the United States in the Tokyo Games:
Alix Klineman and April Ross
Klineman and Ross, who have been playing together since 2018, will be one of the women’s duos to compete in Tokyo for the United States. During the 2021 abbreviated World Tour, the pair won once and came in third twice. They also have six Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (commonly known as FIVB) wins together.
Ross, 6-foot-1, has two Olympic medals on her resume. Ross won a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics with Jen Kessy and a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics with Kerri Walsh Jennings, who did not qualify for this year’s Games. At 39 years old, Ross has been named USA Volleyball’s Beach Player of the Year eight times and has been part of the Beach Team of the Year three times since 2008.
Ross’ 6-foot-5 partner, Klineman, was USA Volleyball’s Female Beach Player of the Year in 2019. Klineman, 31, played indoor volleyball in Italy and Brazil until she was 26 years old. Klineman, who is also NHL winger Teddy Purcell’s wife, transitioned to the beach game in 2017 and won AVP rookie of the year in her first season.
Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil
The second women’s beach volleyball team to represent the United States in Tokyo, Claes and Sponcil, ranks sixth in the world. Claes, 25, and Sponcil, 24, make up the youngest beach volleyball duo to compete in U.S. history. The pair teamed up in 2018 and has been on a tear heading into the Games.
Claes has partnered with Walsh Jennings and Ross in the past. The 6-foot-2 star went to USC and won back-to-back national titles. Sponcil, 5-foot-10, played both indoor and beach volleyball in her collegiate career at Loyola Marymount and UCLA.
Tri Bourne and Jake Gibb
Bourne and Gibb make up one of the men’s duos representing the United States in the 2020 Olympics. Gibb's original Olympic partner was Taylor Crabb. But after Crabb tested positive for COVID-19, Bourne was sent to Tokyo as his replacement.
Gibb will make his fourth Olympic appearance after competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics with Sean Rosenthal and the 2016 Rio Olympics with Casey Patterson. Gibb, 6-foot-7, has been named USA Volleyball Men’s Beach Player of the Year four times, including in 2018 and 2019. At 45 years old, Gibb will be the oldest Olympic volleyball player in history.
Bourne, a Hawaii native, returned to competition in 2018 after taking time off with a chronic inflammatory muscle disease. The 6-foot-6 32-year-old placed fourth at the 2019 World Championships with Trevor Crabb -- Taylor's brother -- and will be making his Olympic debut in Tokyo.
Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena
Dalhausser and Lucena will return to the Olympics after winning their pool and finishing tied for fifth place in Rio in 2016. After competing as a duo from 2003 to 2005, Dalhausser and Lucena rejoined forces in 2015 and are currently ranked eighth in the world.
Dalhausser, 41, will be making his fourth trip to the Olympics. The 6-foot-9 Florida native is part of the most recent American men’s team to take home a gold medal when he did so with Todd Rogers in the 2008 Beijing Games, where he also was named the Most Outstanding Player. Dalhausser is a four-time FIVB Most Outstanding Player, a five-time best offensive player, seven-time best blocker and seven-time best setter.
Lucena is also 41 years old. The 6-foot-1 Florida native will be making his second appearance in the Olympics and has eight FIVB gold medals, all with Dalhausser.
When are the men’s and women’s beach volleyball tournaments at the Tokyo Olympics?
The Olympic beach volleyball tournaments in Tokyo are scheduled to run through Aug. 6.
The preliminaries will take place at Shiokaze Park until July 31 and will be followed by the elimination round matches. The women's medal matches start on Thursday, Aug. 5, at 9 p.m. ET (Aug. 6 at 10 a.m. Japan Standard Time) and the men’s will start on Friday, Aug. 6, at 9 p.m. ET. (Aug. 7 at 10 a.m. Japan Standard Time).
Here’s a look at the Team USA duos’ schedules during the preliminary rounds:
Saturday, July 24
- Brouwer/Meeuwsen (Netherlands) def. Lucena/Dalhausser, 2-0
- Ross/Klineman def. Xue/Wang X.X. (China), 2-0
Sunday, July 25
- Gibb/Bourne vs. Carambula/Rossi (Italy): 9 a.m. ET
- Claes/Sponcil vs. Graudina/Kravcenoka (Latvia): 8 p.m. ET
Monday, July 26
- Ross/Klineman vs. Liliana/Elsa (Spain): 8 p.m. ET
- Alison/Álvaro Filho (Brazil) vs. Lucena/Dalhausser: 11 p.m. ET
Tuesday, July 27
- Gibb/Bourne vs. Heidrich/Gerson (Switzerland): 8 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 28
- Claes/Sponcil vs. Makokha/Khadambi (Kenya): 8 p.m. ET
- Lucena/Dalhausser vs. Azaad/Capogrosso (Argentina): 10 p.m. ET
Thursday, July 29
- Ross/Klineman vs. Keizer/Meppelink (Netherlands): 8 p.m. ET
Friday, July 30
- Cherif/Ahmed (Qatar) vs. Gibb/Bourne: 9 a.m. ET
- Ana Patrícia/Rebecca (Brazil) vs. Claes/Sponcil: 8 p.m. ET
What TV channel is beach volleyball on at the Tokyo Olympics?
NBC Olympics’ full TV and livestream schedule lists more than 5,000 hours of content by channel and sport.
Who is the favorite to win a gold medal in beach volleyball?
Since beach volleyball debuted at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Team USA has taken home 10 medals. The United States women have won three gold medals, a silver and two bronze, while the men have added three gold and one silver medal. Can they do it again at the Tokyo Games?
Before the preliminaries kick off, the favorites to take home gold in the women’s tournament are Claes and Sponcil (+375), according to PointsBet. Klineman and Ross, ranked No. 2 in the world, will also enter the Games as one of the top medal contenders. The duo is tied for the second-best odds (+400) to win gold, and have been so dominant since they paired up in 2018 that they were able to clinch their Olympic roster spot back in March.
The favorites to be the gold medal winners for the men’s beach volleyball tournament in Tokyo are Christian Sorum and Anders Mol from Norway (+200).
Editor's note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.