Why there is a debate about the best team in beach volleyball
For most of beach volleyball’s past two years, there have been two teams that have dominated the scene with April Ross and Alix Klineman, and Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan. However, there is something that changed in 2021 since those two teams have struggled.
These two teams were considered the titans of the scene which was evident in early 2021. They were strong at the start of the campaign but in the past five tournaments, they’ve struggled to put together results and medals as a gold medal has become elusive.
With their gold medal in Ostrava, the duo of Sarah Sponcil and Kelly Claes have turned into one of the best teams in the world. This was their second gold medal in a row which is amazing since they’ve struggled to even win one gold medal in their first 100 tournaments together.
The likes of Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima or even Agatha Bednarczuk and Duda Lisboa have become a solid duo this year. The best team in the world debate is wide open because of the two titans finally facing some solid competition.
Why it’s been a struggle for the two titans
Admittedly, the two titans of the sport have struggled to keep up with the rest of the scene. Most of the teams were not even qualified for the Olympics before 2021. Of course, Ross and Klineman secured their spot in the Games earlier this year but they were essentially locked for a spot since they were the best team in the world.
This is similar to Melissa and Pavan since they were already qualified for the Games way back in 2019. That kind of success can get people to coast, which Melissa and Pavan have started to do. They are coasting on the basis that they’re already in the Games and they just need to get a few reps in before the Tokyo Games.
These two teams are still the favourites to win the Olympics. Ross and Klineman are seeking the USA’s fourth Games gold medal after Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor won the event in 2004, 2008, and 2012.
Who can compete with the two titans?
Even if they have a case of sitting atop the beach tour, the two titans have fallen off from their perch and other teams are vying for the throne. The likes of Claes and Sponcil have a good case since they’ve been successful recently and their playstyle is friendly to the viewers.
It can go to Agatha and Duda since they’ve been consistent for a long time. However, the throne still has either Ross and Klineman or Melissa and Pavan. This is a loaded sport and since there are so many great teams, there is a solid debate on what teams are the best in the world.
Words: Cholo Martin