The beach-volleyball world was a bit taken aback last July 20 when brothers Miles and Marcus Partain made the main draw at AVP Hermosa Beach at ages 15 and 17, respectively.
Talk about youth being served. They became the youngest pair to ever win a qualifier. Now, headed into the 2018 season, they’ve begun building an international resume. The Partains finished 33rd at the FIVB U21 championships in Nanjing, China, this past July. Then last November, Miles partnered with 19-year-old Adam Wienckowski in a FIVB senior one-star in Sydney, Australia, nearly qualifying for the main draw.
At the recent USA volleyball U19 trials, they finished second to Tim Brewster (a former partner of Miles’) and John Schwengel. Their second-place finish means they will likely represent the USA at the U19 world championships in Nanjing, China, later this year.
And right now they’re playing indoors for their boys team at Pacific Palisades (Calif.) High School. The Partains both play opposite/setter in a 6-2 offense. The Dolphins finished 37-6 in 2017, finishing fifth in the CIF SoCal championships after being swept by top-seeded Corona Del Mar. In their spare time, the brothers enjoy a variety of sports, including ping-pong, darts, some basketball, or a little tennis.
In indoors club, Miles plays for the Pac 6 17s, while Marcus plays for the Storm 18s team. Both have verbally committed to UCLA.
Dylan Maarek has coached them in beach, meeting the brothers while at the Crescent Volleyball club.
“They’re really good kids, we’ve been working on playing a good clean in-system game. They’ve been doing a really good job of being explosive in their approaches, which is especially important for them since they’re not necessarily the most physical players, they make up for it with good ball control,” Maarek said.
“They’re both really positive kids, occasionally they’ll introduce a bit of sibling history, but for the most part they do a really good job of keeping it positive and bringing each other up to their maximum potential.
“Marcus is really, really driven. Miles just enjoys the sport to the fullest. He loves every aspect of volleyball.”
The Partains have naturally experienced sibling rivalry.
“At first we got too mad at each other,” Miles said, “So then we stopped playing with each other.”
But after two seasons apart, they reunited.
“I like playing with Marcus a lot.” Miles said. “We’re always playing next to each other and strategizing together. Training together is much easier.
“Being brothers, we can tell each other mean stuff, but because we’re brothers it doesn’t get under our skin because we know each other so well.”
Marcus adds: “We can be more frank, more candid.”
Miles said he likes both indoors and beach equally.
“Beach is more fun usually, but indoor can be really fun sometimes,” Miles said. “You get a lot more touches out on the beach, but in indoor, it’s more of a team game, so there’s more camaraderie.”
Added Marcus, “With beach, there’s only two of you, so you’re more involved in the strategy. Indoors is really fun because it’s a bigger team, so there’s more people to play with and hang out with.”
The Partains are remarkably similar, with interests in math and science towards possible majors in computer science and engineering. They are also devout Christians (non-denominational Protestant).
“(Volleyball) is a good platform to bring people to Christ,” Miles said. “If you have success in something, you have an audience.”
They’ve certainly had success.
When they qualified at Hermosa, they did it with friends, family, and teammates rooting for them.
“It was really fun,” Marcus said. “Having a bunch of our friends cheering us on and supporting us. We weren’t expecting it, but it happened, and we’re really thankful for the experience.”
Miles went on to compete in the FIVB one-star senior event in Sydney with Wienckowski, defeating Italians Matteo Galli and Emanuele Monduzzi 21-7, 21-16, but they were eliminated by Rene Kapa and Morgan Seymour of New Zealand 21-18, 21-16.
“That was a really great country,” Miles said. “We beat Italy in the first round of the qualifier and then lost to New Zealand. They were a really good team.”
Miles said playing on the senior FIVB tour and competing on distant continents against teams twice his age was a great learning experience.
“Our biggest takeaways are getting used to traveling, and playing and getting knocked out in the qualifier. The travel’s not too bad, you can sleep and watch movies.”
The Partains have a busy schedule, competing for Pacific Palisades through May, competing with their indoor clubs through July.
“There are some AVP’s during the school year,” Marcus said. “And of course we’ll be training. We would like to play the California qualifiers and see how we do.”
The Partains also have an eye out for other FIVB events this summer, in particular the one-star in Kochi, India, August 2-5.
“We have a friend who lives around that area,” Marcus said. “He also plays volleyball. We might find another friend and we can all go.”