U.S. beach volleyball Olympians open season with new partners

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All of the U.S. Olympic beach volleyball players from Rio are signed up for the 2017 season opener next month, but half of the pairs have split up.

Following Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson‘s partingLauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat are also with new partners for an FIVB World Tour event in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The full entry lists are here.

Fendrick signed up with Sara Hughes, a USC senior who has played in four career FIVB World Tour events. Sweat is with veteran Summer Ross.

In Rio, Fendrick and Sweat became the first U.S. women to go winless at an Olympics, dropping all three of their group-play matches. In three seasons together from 2014-16, they reached nine quarterfinals on the FIVB World Tour, plus at the 2015 World Championships, but never a semifinal.

The top U.S. beach teams — Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross and Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena — are among the favorites in Fort Lauderdale.

The men’s field is led by Olympic gold and silver medalists Alison and Bruno of Brazil and Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy.

Missing are Olympic bronze medalists Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands. Brazil’s No. 2 team of Pedro and Evandro split and are entered with new partners.

On the women’s side, Walsh Jennings and Ross are the only Olympic medalists slated to play together in Fort Lauderdale. Rio gold medalist Laura Ludwig of Germany is out due to shoulder surgery, so Kira Walkenhorst is with a substitute partner.

The Brazilian silver medalists Agatha and Barbara split after Rio and are entered in Fort Lauderdale with new partners.

MORE: Change of plans for April Ross in 2017