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The U.S. women’s beach volleyball team of Angie Akers and Nicole Branagh won the U.S. country quota by defeating Brittany Hochevar and Lisa Rutledge on Monday at the Mazury (Poland) Orlen Grand Slam, part of the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour.

Earlier this summer, Akers and Branagh  lost two FIVB country quota matches to Hochevar and Rutledge in Stavanger, Norway and Gstaad, Switzerland.

But Akers and Branagh came back to defeat Hochevar and Rutledge on Monday in Poland, 22-20, 21-12 in 34 minutes.

Akers and Branagh, who started in the main draw and finished ninth in their last two FIVB World Beach Volleyball Tour tournaments in Moscow and Quebec, are ranked first in Tuesday’s qualifying round and received a bye to the second round. They will play the winner of the qualifying match between Switzerland’s 17th-ranked Muriel Graessli and Tanja Goricanec and the British 16th-ranked team of Denise Johns and Lucy Boulton.

Three other U.S. women’s beach teams will begin main draw play on Wednesday. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, who won the Moscow Grand Slam and did not compete in Quebec, are scheduled to play in the main draw along with Jen Kessy and April Ross along with Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Hanson.

The men’s beach volleyball teams will begin country quota play on Tuesday. Matt Fuerbringer and Nick Lucena, who won the silver medal in Quebec, will nevertheless have to play compatriots Brad Keenan and Casey Patterson to determine which team will play in Wednesday’s qualification round.

The U.S. men’s beach volleyball teams that will begin play in Thursday’s main draw are Quebec winners Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers; Quebec bronzed medalists Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal along with the returning team of Casey Jennings and Kevin Wong.

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