Top pros head to Fort Lauderdale for this week’s FIVB five-star

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The five-star event in Fort Lauderdale will again feature night matches from Wednesday-Saturday/FIVB photo

The biggest international beach-volleyball tournament in America starts this week in Fort Lauderdale.

Some of the pros competed in the men’s only FIVB Kish Island three-star event in Iran that concluded Saturday (a recap follows), but now it’s on to Florida for the FIVB Fort Lauderdale Major, a five-star event loaded with the biggest names in the sport.

What’s more, there are only three five-star events in 2018 and Fort Lauderdale features the largest purse ($600,000 total) and points of the year with the exception of the Hamburg World Tour Finals. The winners will take home $40,000 and 1,200 points, a significant upgrade from a four-star’s $300,000 total purse.

The tournament starts with country-quota matches Monday and begins in earnest on Tuesday on Fort Lauderdale Beach. There will be night matches Wednesday through Saturday. The women’s final is Saturday and the men’s medal matches on Sunday.

Historically the tournament has been dominated by the in-season southern-hemisphere Brazilians. Last year, Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca beat countrywomen Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Lisboa in the final. On the men’s side, Saymon Barbosa and Alvaro Filho took gold after coming out of the qualifier. They beat world-champions Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola in the final.

Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes are the top women’s seed for 2018, followed by Germany’s Chantal Laboreur and Julia Sude and the Czech Republic’s Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova.

Americans Lauren Fendrick and Nicole Branagh are seeded eighth, followed by Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes at 11th, April Ross and Alix Klineman at 12th, and Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross at 13th.

American qualifying teams are Betsi Flint and Kelley Larsen, seeded eighth, and Brittany Hochevar and Emily Day at 10th.

For the men, Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena are seeded No. 1, followed by Brazilians Goncalves and Loyola and Poland’s Bartosz Losiak and Piotr Kantor.

Other main-draw American men are 14th-seeded Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb, 15th-seeded John Hyden and Theo Brunner, and wild-cards Stafford Slick and Casey Patterson.

Ryan Doherty and Billy Allen will compete in qualification. Three USA teams will compete in countr- quota matches for the last spot, as Trevor Crabb and Skylar DelSol, Bill Kolinske and Miles Evans, and Adam Roberts and Avery Drost will try to capture the last USA berth.

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Trevor Crabb serves for the USA at Kish Island/FIVB photo

Kish Island: Mariusz Prudel and Jakub Szalankiewicz of Poland won gold, beating Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs of Latvia. Alexander Walkenhorst and Sven Winter of Germany took bronze.

The USA’s Miles Evans and Billy Kolinske finished 17th after a first-round playoff loss to France’s Arnaud Gauthier-Rat and Maxime Thiercy 21-16, 21-14. Patterson and Slick finished 25th after failing to break pool with an 0-2 record. Two USA teams, Crabb and DelSol, and Adam Roberts and Eric Zaun, failed to qualify.

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