GSTAAD, Switzerland — Belief was suspended for a moment. Two moments. Three. Tim Brewster’s hands covered his mouth. Logan Webber, glorious mullet spilling out the back of his visor, grinned a grin only a winner playing on house money — and winning big with it — could grin. Through rain falling from charcoal skies in otherwise breathtaking Switzerland, Brewster and Webber had just qualified for the main draw of the Gstaad Elite16, coming back in the third set to beat Italians Marco Viscovich and Gianluca Dal Corso, 21-18, 18-21, 15-11.

Webber and Brewster have come out of qualifiers aplenty. They’ve felt the elation of the final ball dropping, a main draw ticket punched. But there is no main draw in the world quite like the main draw of Gstaad.

Frankly, there’s nothing all that close.

“I’ve been watching this tournament since I was 14, and if there was any tournament I’d want to play on my bucket list one day, it would be Gstaad,” said Brewster, who had played in 24 previous international tournaments and lost his only Elite16 match. “So when he gave me the call to come, I couldn’t turn it down. The fact that we even got to play here and at the beginning of our first game, Logan said ‘We’re playing in Gstaad, how cool is that?’ ”

The fact that they got to play at all, much less earning three more matches on Thursday and Friday, sits at the cross-section of sheer providence and years and years of work as individuals. Both were scheduled to play later this week in AVP Denver, Brewster with Jake Dietrich, Webber with Hagen Smith. But Smith, recovering from a back injury, didn’t want to agitate it any further with an international flight and subsequent competition, and Webber still wanted to go, because, well, it’s Gstaad. While he hadn’t played with Brewster since a NORCECA in La Paz, Mexico, in 2022 — they finished fifth — he was no stranger to Brewster’s rise on the AVP Tour and his grinding on the Beach Pro Tour. So on exactly zero practices and one tournament two years ago, Webber and Brewster qualified for the first Elite16 main draws of their careers, at the most iconic location on the Beach Pro Tour.

“There isn’t a bigger tournament that could happen. This is it,” Webber said. “It’s weird to be training next to Norway and Sweden and then not only are we in the qualifier of the tournament, but we’re in it now.”

Indeed they are, in it as the bottom seed in Pool B, where they will be pitted against Brazil’s George Wanderley and Andre Loyola, Qatar’s Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan, and fellow Americans Chase Budinger and Miles Evans.

“Logan and I both grinded for years in different ways and we’ve never really played together,” Brewster said. “To play together in this is pretty awesome. This one feels really good.”

Tim Brewster in disbelief that he had just qualified for the Gstaad Elite16/Volleyball World photo

Cowbell title defense begins for Andy Benesh, Miles Partain

Gstaad will soon be etched into an indelible memory for Logan Webber and Tim Brewster. For the past year, it has been exactly that for Andy Benesh and Miles Partain. A year ago, the USA’s top men’s pair won their first Elite16 gold medal, stunning Anders Mol and Christian Sorum twice en route to a gold and the second of what would become three straight medals.

Their title defense will not be an easy one. In Pool C, they again will meet Mol and Sorum, as well as torrid young Germans Lukas Pfretzschner and Sven Winter and the perpetually formidable Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera of Spain. Gstaad will be the penultimate tune-up tournament for Benesh and Partain before they make their Olympic debuts in Paris.

Terese Cannon, Megan Kraft add to San Diego success

Both teams coached by the combo of Mike Placek and Paul Lotman — Andy Benesh and Miles Partain, and Terese Cannon and Megan Kraft — will be in the main draw this weekend. The latter punched their ticket with a single win, an 18-21, 23-21, 15-11 victory over Lithuanian Olympians Monika Paulikiene and Aine Raupelyte. The other American teams in the qualifier — Kylie DeBerg and Hailey Harward, Kim Hildreth and Teegan Van Gunst — fell in the first and second rounds, respectively. Cannon and Kraft now find themselves in a Pool C featuring familiar faces in Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth, Latvian Olympians Tina Graudina and Anastasija Samoilova, and German Olympians Cinja Tillmann and Svenja Muller.

The final American team remaining, Betsi Flint and Julia Scoles, are alone in Pool B alongside Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson, Tokyo bronze medalists Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Mader, and China’s Chen Xue and Xinyi Xia.

Megan Kraft-Terese Cannon-Gstaad Elite16
Megan Kraft and Terese Cannon celebrate qualifying at the Gstaad Elite16/Volleyball World photo


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