Claes finished ninth in her first Olympic appearance last year in Tokyo

Two days after her former partner Sarah Sponcil announced she would compete on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour with Terese Cannon, it was time for Kelly Claes to share her plans for 2022. The 26-year-old blocker used her Instagram account to reveal her new partnership with Betsi Flint ahead of the first events in March.

The two are already training together in California under the guidance of coach Jordan Cheng and are expected to make their debut as a team in one of the three first Beach Pro Tour events in Mexico.

“I thought we clicked pretty quick,” Claes, a Tokyo Olympian, told Volleyball Mag. “She’s all in, which I love. It’s the honeymoon period. We’re still going kind of slow. We’ve competed against two other teams and I want to compete for the next four hours. It’s like: We need to work on A, B, and C, how do we communicate, how do we bring the best out of each other, and that takes time and conversations. But I’m antsy to compete together because that’s the most fun, being on the court together and strategizing and being this united team and united front and going to battle together.”

Flint, 29, had been playing with Emily Day since 2018. She has won four World Tour gold medals and has triumphed on five occasions in the American AVP.

The defender was away from the sand in 2020 to give birth to her first daughter, Cora, and returned to international competition last year, taking gold at the World Tour two-star event in Brno, Czech Republic, and fifth in the season-ending four-star tournament in Itapema, Brazil, in November.


Flint in action during the Itapema event last November

“I was really excited when Kelly called, especially the long-term commitment of going for Paris,” Flint added. “Obviously the main goal is to win tournaments and build chemistry together. It was easy and it was hard because I love Emily, but Kelly’s obviously awesome and she’s an Olympian, she’s experienced. We’ve played each other a bunch of times and it’s always a battle.”

Flint’s former partner Day will join forces with Tokyo Olympic champion April Ross, but it’s still uncertain if the team will compete internationally. Ross’ partner Alix Klineman has recently had shoulder surgery and will be sidelined for some months.