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Beach volleyball heats up on Fort Lauderdale sand

United States' Kerri Walsh Jennings celebrates winning a point during a women's beach volleyball match against Australia at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sun., Aug. 7, 2016.
United States' Kerri Walsh Jennings celebrates winning a point during a women's beach volleyball match against Australia at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sun., Aug. 7, 2016. AP

American beach volleyball teams got off to a hot start at the FIVB World Tour Major tournament in Fort Lauderdale, highlighted by an upset of Rio Olympic gold medalists Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt of Brazil by new partners Casey Patterson and Theo Brunner.

The tournament, which runs through Sunday on Fort Lauderdale beach, features the best players in the world and, for the first time, 18 matches under the stadium lights.

Patterson and Brunner dominated Brazil 21-14 in the first set, then relied on Brunner’s blocking skills to shut down Brazil 22-20 for the match. Later on Wednesday, they rallied to defeat Germany’s Markus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen 18-21, 21-19 and 17-15. They will meet either an Austrian or Brazilian pair on Friday.

Olympic bronze medalists April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings played at night, as they did at the Copacabana venue during the Rio Games, and defeated Marleen van Iersel and Manon Flier of the Netherlands, 21-18, 21-17. They are among the favorites for Sunday’s final.

Cooper City’s Nick Lucena and partner Phil Dalhausser beat Brazil veterans Harley Silva and Ricardo Santos and Austria’s clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst as they aimed for Friday’s second round.

Sean Rosenthal and Trevor Crabb won their first match against No. 2-seeded Latvia and dropped their second against Russia. Lauren Fendrick and Sara Hughes were 1-0 after their opening match.

General admission seats are free and VIP packages are available for fans. For more information on tickets, match schedules and live streaming, go to www.us.swatchmajorseries.com. Red Bull TV will broadcast the weekend’s matches starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday at redbull.tv.

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