2018-05-02 19:43:00 CEST

Stars align in Huntington Beach

Major Series regulars set for four-star clash in California

A host of the world’s top beach volleyball stars will take on the cream of the United States at this week’s Huntington Beach Open.

Both Fort Lauderdale Major champions Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, of the USA, and Brazilian’s Barbara Seixas and Fernanda Berti Alves will be aiming for consecutive World Tour golds on American sand this season.

Both teams face stiff competition – not just from the international beach elite – but from a number of home teams who have been competing in a qualification series. The pre-qualification began on Tuesday with 19 games, before the qualification tournament on Wednesday saw 32 matches take place as teams battled for a place in the main draw.

The main draw kicks off on Thursday with a total of 41 US teams (19 men, 22 women) making up the 48-team main draw. For the first at an FIVB event in six years, the tournament features a double elimination bracket, meaning if you lose your first match, you remain in the tournament until you lose a second match. There’s no pool play.

The top 16 seeds in both genders receive byes to round two, but among the most interesting match-ups in the first round of the women’s main draw, including Germans Maggie Kozuch and Karla Borger against American qualifiers McKenna Thibodeau and Madison Witt and Spain’s Liliana Fernandez and Elsa Baquerizo versus Briana Hinga and Bre Moreland of the USA.

In the men’s first round, Canada’s Ben Saxton and Grant O’Gorman take on Jonathan Drake and Chris Luers of the United States while Norway’s rising stars Anders Mol and Christian Sørum take on USA’s Garrett Wilson and Kacey Losik.

There’s a host of intriguing all-American clashes, including Casey Patterson and Stafford Slick against Reid Priddy and Jeremy Casebeer and Mayer and Trevor Crabb against Mikes Evans and Billy Kolinske.

Following the draw, Dalhausser and Lucena face a potential tough route to the final, as they could face Alvaro/Saymon in the second phase. Women's world number ones, and recent Commonwealth and Xiamen Open champions, Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan will play the winner of the all-American first round clash between Smith/Ponnet and Lane/Ledoux.

Thursday will see a total of 96 matches played across the Huntington Beach event site.

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