Beach Volleyball Guadalajara Challenge 2024

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GUADALAJARA, Mexico — It was only two years ago, but they had almost forgotten. Hailey Harward and Kylie Deberg came to Mexico for this week’s Beach Pro Tour Guadalajara Challenge fresh off a gold medal at a NORCECA in the Dominican Republic.

Did it feel a bit full circle, they were asked, after they played a most random Futures in the Netherlands a few years back? Their faces registered the full spectrum — confused (did we?), recognition (oh wow, we did!), amusement. They were just kids back then — all the way back in December of 2022.

Harward has since become an AVP champion, a defender skilled enough, with a ceiling so high, that Alix Klineman picked her up for the 2023 World Championships. Deberg, still new to the beach after competing on the sand during her grad year at LSU, has since won a Tour Series and taken a seventh at the Manhattan Beach Open.

Now they are both in the USA Volleyball developmental pipeline, under the tutelage of Scott Davenport. They’re hitting the road, winning gold last week in the Dominican, seeded 11th in the Guadalajara Challenge qualifier, where they have just one match, against Slovenia’s Tjasa Kotnik and Tajda Lovsin.

“It’s cool, I feel like we both improved and matured since the last time we played,” Harward said. “Individually, more reps, we were both improving with experience and reps. Coming back, it’s nice.”

“I’d only been playing beach for half a year at that point,” Deberg said. “It’s been like two and a half years almost now.”

In fact, every team who medaled in the Dominican Republic is now in Guadalajara, attempting to climb the Beach Pro Tour ladder beginning with its bottom continental rung. Puerto Ricans Allanis Navas and Maria Gonzalez, who are redshirting from GCU and TCU, respectively, as they make their run at the Paris Olympics, had two match points for gold against Harward and Deberg. Neither fell, and they settled for silver. They are now seeking to qualify for their second consecutive Challenge main draw after qualifying in Saquarema, Brazil two weeks ago.

Source: volleyballmag.com

The Guadalajara Post