USC sophomores Megan Kraft and Delaynie Maple won the 2021 FIVB Beach Volleyball women’s U19 world championship Saturday, defeating Russians Olga Gavrilova and Alina Salmanova, 21-12, 21-17, in Phuket, Thailand.

“There’s something different about winning with USA on your chest and it’s always fun to do it with your best friend,” said Maple, who was also a classmate of Kraft’s at Torrey Pines High School in San Diego.

Kraft and Maple needed to win a qualifying match to advance to pool play, where they were seeded 27th in the field of 32. They won all three matches in pool play, then won three more matches to advance to the semifinals, where they defeated fellow Americans Xolani Hodel and Kate Reilly, both Stanford sophomores, 21-17, 21-15, Friday.

Kraft and Maple won 16 of their 17 sets, losing only the opening set in the round of 16 to Desy Poiesz and Brecht Piersma of the Netherlands.

Kraft and Maple are the second U.S. team to win the championship, joining the team of Jane Croson and Summer Ross, who won in 2010. The tournament began in 2002 and been held 16 times. It was originally for players 18 years old and under, switching to under-19 in 2005.

Kraft and Maple won the only match they were paired together as USC freshmen in 2021. Kraft was 25-2 with three partners and Maple 26-3 with three partners as the Trojans won the NCAA championship.

Hodel, a Huntington Beach High alumnus, and Reilly, who graduated from Mira Costa High in Manhattan Beach, lost Saturday’s bronze medal match to Anhelina Khmil and Tetiana Lazarenko of Ukraine, 21-15, 21-19.

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