For a lot of the lead-up to Tokyo, 25-year-old Kelly Claes and 24-year-old Sarah Sponcil seemed just like the workforce of the longer term for United States seashore volleyball, however not essentially one that will compete in Tokyo.
They had been trailing Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat in factors till the second-to-last Olympic qualifying event in Could, the place they received in a serious breakthrough second that allowed them to leapfrog the longtime Olympic veteran Walsh Jennings to safe a spot at these Olympics.
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Up to now in Tokyo, they’ve confirmed their ascent was no fluke, with an ideal 3-0 document forward of their Spherical of 16 elimination match in opposition to the Canadian workforce of Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson.
First, Claes and Sponcil had been examined by the Latvian duo of Tina Graudina and Anastaija Kravcenoka of their opening match, rallying from a giant third set deficit to tug off their first Olympic win.
They then responded with a dominant efficiency in a 21-8, 21-6 win over the Kenyan duo of Gaudencia Makokha and Brackcides Khadambi in their second preliminary match.
Claes and Sponcil then posted their greatest win but, a three-set victory over the favored Brazilian pair of Ana Patrícia Silva Ramos and Rebecca Cavalcanti Barbossa Silva that left the younger People atop Pool D heading into the elimination spherical.
Sponcil and Claes met as youngsters whereas taking part in native tournaments in California. Whereas they technically attended rival faculties (Claes at USC, Sponcil at UCLA), Sponcil began at LMU and did not switch to UCLA till her senior 12 months, so that they mentioned they by no means thought-about themselves rivals, since most of their match-ups got here whereas Sponcil was taking part in for LMU.
They re-connected in 2018 when Claes known as Sponcil to satisfy for burritos and discuss pairing up. Brother’s Burritos in Hermosa Seashore may be credited because the founding web site of their partnership.
Claes mentioned in June 2018, “After I was searching for a companion, I used to be actually searching for somebody that may make me snicker. And he or she kills me! I wished somebody I might actually join with…I used to be searching for somebody my age so we might type of develop collectively and go on this journey collectively. When I discovered Sarah, it was simply such an superior lightbulb second of like, that is what I have been searching for.”
Away from the seashore, Claes is a fan of Comedian-Con, Dungeons and Dragons and video video games. Additionally loves Anime and has a tattoo with a quote from the Anime Fullmetal Alchemist that reads, “A coronary heart made fullmetal.” Mentioned of the importance of the tattoo, “I believe it’s one of many coolest strains the principle character says in the entire present. Form of speaking about …you’ll be able to’t actually achieve something with out struggling by means of one thing.”
NBC Olympics Analysis contributed to this story.