International Volleyball

Andy Benesh, Miles Partain regain formidable form with Ostrava bronze

Andy Benesh, Miles Partain regain formidable form with Ostrava bronze

Miles Partain, left, and Andy Benesh strike a familiar pose/Volleyball World photo

On April 26, Andy Benesh and Miles Partain hosted Italians Sam Cottafava and Paolo Nicolai for an exhibition match at Wave Beach, the San Diego-based facility that serves as their training center. For the first time of their careers, Benesh and Partain beat the Italians.

Benesh was, he said later with an exhale, just glad they didn’t get blown out again.

In their previous two meetings with Cottafava and Nicolai, in Paris and Doha, both in 2023, they hadn’t scored more than 17. But the win, relieving as it may have been in front of a sold out crowd of 500-plus, wouldn’t go down on any ledger. It was light, as exhibitions go. Nicolai hit a skyball. The players pandered to the crowd. Cottafava played a set with Partain, the lefty defenders matching up with their right-handed blockers. Timeouts weren’t spent strategizing or breathing, but picking out raffle tickets and thanking the crowd for supporting them.

It mattered, but it didn’t matter.

Saturday at the Ostrava Elite16 mattered.

Quarterfinals. Partain and Benesh vs. Nicolai and Cottafava.

There would be no skyballs hit in this one, no raffles drawn. A must-win match between two teams struggling to regain their formidable forms of the previous season, when they combined for six medals and 13 top-five finishes.

Ever since a silver medal at the Montreal Elite16 last July capped off a scintillating stretch of three medals in as many weeks, Partain and Benesh hadn’t so much as made a semifinal. They went winless at the season-ending Beach Pro Tour Finals and in three tournaments this year, they boasted just a single win over a team that didn’t come out of the qualifier or was wild-carded into the main draw.

A significant win, yes, over Stefan Boermans and Yorick de Groot in Brasilia, but it was just that: a single win.

And then the wins piled up.

Significant ones, too.

In the final round of pool in Ostrava, they beat Germans Nils Ehlers and Clemens Wickler for the first time, a win that was followed by another pair of firsts over Qatar’s Cherif Samba and Ahmed Tijan, and then Nicolai and Cottafava.

Unlike the exhibition at Wave, this win over the Italians mattered a good deal.

Suddenly, USA’s slumping leader was slumping no longer.

But the exclamation point was saved for the end. A hard-fought semifinal loss to Boermans and de Groot (18-21, 21-23) put them in a bronze medal match with Anders Mol and Christian Sorum, the…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at…