Long Beach, USA, July 19, 2017 - With their first match in Pool I at the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna less than two weeks away, American collegiate champions Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes are looking forward to competing in the Austrian capital.
"I honestly can't believe we are going," said the 21-year old Claes about playing in their first senior FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships. "We weren't sure we would get to go, so we are excited to have this opportunity. We are going to grind and do our best."
When asked about playing in Vienna, the 22-year old Hughes said her team's "goal was to get into some 5-star events this season. This is a dream come true and we are excited to be in Vienna."
Prior to competing in the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, Claes and Hughes will be participating in this week's $300,000 Olsztyn stop on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. A total of 31 men's and 29 women's pairs set for Vienna will be playing in the event that starts Wednesday with qualifying and concludes July 23 with the medal matches.
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After winning their second American collegiate title during the first two weeks of May, Claes and Hughes have competed in four FIVB World Tour events since May 16 with two fifths, a ninth and 17th to their credit and an 11-7 international match mark. Overall, the pair has played in seven World Tour events since August 2015 with a 15-13 record.
Prior to competing on the senior international circuit, Claes and Hughes teamed to capture youth World Championship bronze medals at both the 2013 Under-19s in Portugal (Porto) and the 2014 Under-21s in Cyprus (Larnaka). The Americans compiled a 14-3 record in the two events with two of the setbacks to teams that featured players (Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa of Brazil and Nina Betschart of Switzerland) that will be competing in Vienna.
Also aiding Claes and Hughes' development in their goal of playing in the FIVB World Championships was their appearance in five NORCECA events the past three seasons where the young Americans medalled each time with three first-place finishes at events in Cuba, Canada and Puerto Rico.
To start the 2017 World Championships in Vienna, the 16th-seeded Claes and Hughes will be playing 33rd-seeded Jamie Broder/Taylor Pischke of Canada in their first match July 28 followed by another Pool I contest against 40th-seeded African qualifiers Denyse Mutatsimpundu/Charlotte Nzayisenga of Rwanda July 29. The Americans end group play on July 31 against ninth-seeded wild card entries Maria Antonelli/Carolina Salgado of Brazil.