Kerri Walsh Jennings and new partner Nicole Branagh are in the field for the Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna, Austria, that start July 28.
Walsh Jennings and Branagh, who last played together in 2012, earned the fourth and final U.S. women’s spot for worlds. They had a low number of combined ranking points due mainly to Branagh’s absence from international play the last two years.
The top three U.S. pairs in FIVB rankings received direct entry — Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross, April Ross (Walsh Jennings’ former partner) and Lauren Fendrick and Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes.
Walsh Jennings and Branagh made the field via continental representation after the top 23 from FIVB rankings and two host-country wild cards were named. The full field will be 48 teams.
The top two seeds are Brazilians Larissa and Talita (fourth at the Olympics) and German Olympic champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst.
The men’s field includes Olympic champions Alison and Bruno of Brazil, plus Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, who are ranked No. 1 in the world.
Walsh Jennings won three straight world titles with Misty May-Treanor in 2003, 2005 and 2007, in addition to their three straight Olympic titles in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
Walsh Jennings and April Ross were upset in the round of 16 at the 2015 World Championships before taking bronze at the Rio Games.
Walsh Jennings and Branagh are to make their FIVB World Tour season debut in three weeks in Porec, Croatia, and the following week in Gstaad, Switzerland.
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Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly named Sara Hughes’ partner. She is Kelly Claes, not Emily.