TLAXCALA, Mexico, October 15, 2023.- The United States are back at the top of the women’s podium at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships after 14 years as Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes triumphed in the 14th edition of the tournament, which came to an end on Sunday in Tlaxcala.
In an exciting gold medal match, Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes dethroned defending champions Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa and Ana Patrícia Ramos of Brazil, who got to the last day of the event undefeated and with no sets dropped, to secure a two-set (21-16, 24-22) victory. Their compatriots Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss took bronze, making the Americans have two teams on the podium for the first time since 1999.
The 2023 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships matches are available on demand on VBTV.
Cheng and Hughes’ world title came in their second stint as partners. The two, who formed the most successful team in the history of American collegiate beach volleyball and took bronze at the 2013 FIVB U21 World Championships, competed together internationally from 2015 to 2018, when they split.
The two reunited at the end of 2022 and have had great success since then, winning four titles in the 12 Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour events before the biggest victory of their careers on Sunday in Tlaxcala.
“I’m just so thankful for Sara,” Cheng reacted. “I’m so proud of her and I just thank God for putting us back together. I’m very thankful to be here.”
The 28-year-old Americans became the third different team from their country to triumph at the World Championships, joining three-time winners Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor, who won the 2003, 2005 and 2007 editions of the tournament, and April Ross and Jennifer Kessy, who took the title in 2009. The United States have now five golds, trailing Brazil by just one among the women.
Cheng and Hughes’ victory in Tlaxcala also earned the United States a berth at next year’s Paris Olympics. If the two are confirmed to occupy that spot in the Games, it would be the second Olympic appearance for Cheng, who took ninth in Tokyo 2020 with Sarah Sponcil, and the first for Hughes. The new world champions also get to split the 60,000 dollars prize money offered to the winners.
The bronze medal match at the Tlaxcala Bullring saw a battle between Kloth and Nuss and Australian Olympic medalists Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho, which was won by the Americans in three sets (15-21, 21-19, 15-8).
The most relevant result of their professional career so far, the bronze medal won in Tlaxcala marked the sixth podium appearance of the Americans in 2023 – they took gold in La Paz and Uberlândia, silver in Hamburg and Paris and bronze in Gstaad on Beach Pro Tour Elite16 tournaments.
“I can’t thank Mexico enough, from the bottom of my heart”, said the 1.73m-tall Nuss, who earned the nickname ‘Chaparrita’ (shorty, in Spanish) from the Mexican fans. “I love my new nickname and we’re definitely going to have a churro and probably a Margherita because it’s Mexico, so why not? We’re also very thankful for all the support we have back home.”
Czechs Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner won the men’s gold to Sweden’s David Åhman and Jonatan Hellvig in a fantastic three-set (21-15, 17-21, 15-13) battle at the Tlaxcala Bullring. Poland’s Michal Bryl and Bartosz Łosiak took bronze defeating USA’s Theo Brunner and Trevor Crabb in two sets (21-17, 21-18).