Let’s rewind the tape, shall we? Run it back. Only this time, let’s take arguably the best rivalry on the AVP Tour – Kelly Cheng and Betsi Flint vs. Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth – and move it from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, and drop it onto an even bigger stage: The Paris Elite16, home to the finest beach volleyball not just in the United States, but the world.

It was just six days ago that the two teams played one another in the AVP finale, held in Phoenix, where Nuss and Kloth won, 21-17, 21-16, marking their third win on the AVP Tour this season. On Friday, in the final round of pool play at the Paris Elite16, they met once again.

“When we saw there were two pools with two American teams, we just shook our heads,” Kloth, the 6-foot-4 blocker, said. “I feel like that happens every single tournament there are multiple United States teams, and that does show the depth that we have in the country.”

Indeed, when 25 percent of the field hails from the same country -- Emily Stockman and Megan Kraft, and Sarah Sponcil and Terese Cannon were both in Pool B -- it is almost an inevitability at least two will match up with one another on pool play. Paris marked the second such occasion that Kloth and Nuss have been placed in the same pool as Flint and Cheng, and both matches – as well as the five times they played one another on the AVP Tour this year – lived up to the billing. In Jurmala, Latvia earlier this year, it was Nuss and Kloth who wound up on top, winning 21-16, 19-21, 15-13. On Friday, it was Cheng and Flint claiming the top spot of pool with a 21-15, 18-21, 15-11 win to finish pool 3-0, extending their international winning streak to nine, dating back to their 6-0 gold medal run at the Hamburg Elite16 in early August.

“We knew going into that last match that Cheng and Flint were going to come out strong,” Nuss said. “Up until the Phoenix Championships, we had been going back and forth with them as far as winning and losing. I believe it turns into which team makes the least amount of errors and unfortunately we made more and did not capitalize on opportunities. However, we are excited to keep competing tomorrow.”

While the United States federation certainly had reason to hold its breath on the possibility that only one of the two would emerge from pool, both Nuss and Kloth and Cheng and Flint will be moving onto Saturday’s quarterfinals.

“I think it’s pretty cool to see both American teams break pool,” Nuss said. “I think it shows how strong the competition in America is. Any U.S. team can beat any U.S. team or international team on any given day.”

Both will have their work cut out for them on Saturday. Flint and Cheng will meet Brazilians and current world No. 1 Barbara and Carol in their quarterfinal, while Nuss and Kloth will play the World Champions in Duda and Ana Patricia. Both quarterfinals mark the first time either Brazilian or American team will play the other.

“We have not made an Elite16 semifinal, so we are looking to change that tomorrow,” Nuss said. The only other team remaining in the field who has yet to make an Elite16 semifinal is Swiss qualifiers Zoe Verge-Depre and Esmee Bobner, who will open up the day on the Roland Garros centre court against the Netherlands’ Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon. Stam and Schoon began the year on a torrid run, making three consecutive finals in Tlaxcala, Rosarito, and Itapema, but haven’t medalled since, losing their top ranking to Barbara and Carol. They’ve rebounded nicely in Paris, sweeping Americans Stockman and Kraft and Sponcil and Cannon to take the top spot in pool.

The remaining quarterfinal bout will be held between Switzerland’s top pair in Nina Brunner and Tanja Huberli and Latvia’s Anatasija Samoilova and Tina Graudina, the newly crowned European Champions.

“The first time I walked in, or sat on the bench, or walked on centre court, I thought ‘Serena Williams and all the great tennis players were right here at some point,’” Kloth said. “The walls are lined with photos of the French Open champs wearing their emotion on their faces in the pictures with their trophy after winning this huge tournament. That is what you see as you walk out to the court, how can you not be inspired? My favourite part, on centre court, the quote reads ‘victory belongs to the most tenacious.’”

A fitting quote for a fitting tournament, for it will take no shortage of tenacity to claim gold in Paris.