Sander triumphs in eventful beach debut


American star Taylor Sander had to grind to secure the first beach volleyball win of his career as partner Taylor Crabb and him debuted in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 4-star event in Itapema on Thursday. 

Playing on the sand for the first time since he switched from indoor, right after the Tokyo Olympics, the 29-year-old Sander and his partner Crabb were pushed to three sets by Danish Kristoffer Abell and Jacob Brinck, but eventually came up on top, taking a 21-18, 18-21, 15-12 victory on Pool B.

“I’m wasn’t super comfortable out there as I’m still getting used to it,” he said right after the match. “We haven’t had too much practice, maybe just one good week of practice together and it’s a little bit difficult. I don’t think we are in our best shape, but we’re here and we’re going to give it our best. We’ll try to win matches, it doesn’t matter how. It’s important for me to get some experience at a higher level.”

Sander has played beach volleyball while growing up in California and that’s how Crabb and him met nearly 15 years ago. As they both played both beach and indoor at the same time, they have long been opponents, but also developed a solid friendship over the years.

Sander and Crabb have been friends for 15 years before becoming partners

That’s why when Sander decided to move to the beach after his second Olympic appearance with the United States men’s national team, he knew exactly where to look for a partner.

“I went to college playing indoor and I was able to make it to the national team, so I went that direction, but I’m excited for a new adventure,” he added. “I enjoy playing beach more than indoor and it’s also better for the body. It was the perfect time for me to make the switch. Taylor happened to be free, we’re good friends and it worked out perfectly.”

Sander’s beach debut happened not only with a partner he’s familiar with by his side but also in a country he knows fairly well. It was in Brazil that he experienced arguably one of the top moments of his indoor career, when he helped the USA national team take bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympics. After that, he also went to play for Brazilian powerhouse Sada Cruzeiro Volei for a full club season in 2018-2019.

“Brazil is one of the best volleyball countries in the world,” he reflected. “It’s always nice to come back here. The people are always amazing, they’re super nice and very supportive. They have a lot of pride in their volleyball and it’s always nice to be back.”

Sander and Crabb return to the court later on Thursday, when they face the home team of Rio 2016 Olympic champion Alison Cerutti and his partner Gustavo ‘Guto’ Carvalhaes in the Pool B final.

All matches are streamed live on Beach Volleyball World’s YouTube channel.

Quick links:
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour - Itapema
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020



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