COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 10, 2012) – Two U.S. beach volleyball teams will begin play Wednesday in the FIVB SWATCH Youth (Under-19) World Championships in Larnaka, Cyprus.
Sara Hughes (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, Calif.) will compete in the girls’ division while Bennett Bird (San Diego) and Riley Mallon (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) will play on the boys’ side.
Hughes and Wong-Orantes finished ninth in the 2011 Youth World Championships. Hughes also competed at the 2011 FIVB Junior World Championships with Caitlin Racich, but did not qualify for the main draw.
Bird competed at the 2011 Youth World Championships with Nick Porterfield. The duo finished tied for 19th.
Mallon was named to the 17 Open all-Tournament Team on July 8 after his indoor club team, SCVC 17 Quiksilver, won the division at the USA Volleyball Boys’ Junior National Championships.
"A new FIVB format is certain to make for some interesting matchups,” Ali Wood Lamberson, USA Volleyball director of beach programs, said. “Both of our teams are ready to take advantage and have the focus and ability to make it onto the podium."
Hughes and Wong-Orantes are seeded No. 8 and will play in Pool H.
They will open play on Wednesday against Guiana’s No. 25 Nene Amie Kante and Aissatou Perpetue Kamano.
On Thursday, Hughes and Wong-Orantes will face Nigeria’s No. 24 Roukeya Insa Garanke and Samira Abdou Hamadou along with Australia’s No. 9 Rebecca Reeve and Jessyka Ngauamo.
Mallon and Bird are seeded No. 9 in the main draw and will compete in Pool Q.
On Wednesday, the U.S. team will face Poland’s No. 24 Michal Bryl and Kacper Kujawiak along with Canada’s No. 25 William Hoey and Liam Kopp. On Thursday, Mallon and Bird will complete pool play against Austria’s No. 8 Martin Ermacora and Lukas Peter Stranger.
The U.S. girls’ beach volleyball team of Jane Croson (Lakewood, Calif.) and Summer Ross (Carlsbad, Calif.) captured the gold medal at the 2010 edition in Porto, Portugal, the first gold medal for the United States in the tournament’s nine-year history.
The boys have also tallied success at past FIVB Youth World Championships with the U.S. teams of Tony Ciarelli (Huntington Beach, Calif.)/Jeff Carlson (Newport Beach, Calif.) in 2008 and Joey Dykstra (Hermosa Beach, Calif.)/Mark Van Zwieten (Pompano Beach, Fla.) in 2005 capturing silver medals.
For more information, visit the FIVB web site.