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USA Women’s Beach Volleyball Pair Rekindling the “Cardinal and Gold” Partnership to Dominate the Global Stage

Published 10/13/2023, 5:45 AM EDT

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As the Olympics 2024 is nearing, sportspersons across the globe are putting up their best show. They are making all the possible efforts to clinch their spots in the event while also bringing the ultimate glory to their country. In USA beach volleyball circles, a Californian duo is making all the heads turn with their exceptional gameplay. The teen duo is taking the world ranking storm and featuring a remarkable partnership since 2022.

All set to dominate the global beach volleyball championships, the Duo aims to extend the USA’s medals streak tally at the upcoming Paris Olympics 2024. But how did Cardinal and Gold come together? 

Matched by color, matched by game

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Kelly Cheng, and Sara Hughes, are an inspiration for true friendship. Living a distance of 30 minutes drive from each other, the girls began playing Beach Volleyball when they were in school. Their nickname ‘Cardinal and Gold’ has an interesting story behind it. It has a reference to their respective hair colors, which coincidentally matched the school colors of their alma mater, the University of Southern California. Sadly, their childhood fairytale ended in vain as their successful career led to the breakup between the two. 

Nonetheless, the Duo united again in the fall of 2022. From then, there was no looking back, and they started getting closer than ever. Said William Shakespeare, “All is well that ends well”. Soon after reuniting, the Duo constantly made the headlines and became the highest-ranked team across the globe. 

In an exclusive interview with Olympics.com, Cheng said, “We have really good chemistry. Our styles of play complement each other really well,…..We’re both at the same stages of life and on the same page with a lot of things. And I think that’s just helped us fight hard together and fight for each other on and off the court, which I think is really important.”

Cheng and Hughes are ranked third in the world as per the October 2023 rankings. Meanwhile, they also won three major competitions after reuniting. In addition to this, they also ended up being one of the top five teams at the Six Beach Pro Tour Elite16 tournament. With this lineup of success, naturally hopes are high for the duo in the grand stage of Paris.

Hand in hand towards Parisian dream

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Furthermore, Cheng and Hughes are looking forward to clinching a gold in the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics. While Cheng has the Olympic rings tattooed on her arm, signifying her Olympic medal dream, Hughes also shares the same aspiration. However, the pressure is on for the Duo as they will be representing Team USA at the Olympics. 

Also, read- USA’s Top-Ranked Women’s Beach Volleyball Duo Unveil the Secret Sauce of a Perfect Partner

Since 1996, Team USA has consistently received at least one medal in every Olympic Games Beach volleyball tournament. Thus, the Duo is also anticipated to keep up with the heavy weight of expectations in the upcoming Olympics. Nonetheless, the Duo have had their sights on becoming the USA beach volleyball players to win a world title since 2009. 

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Overall, Cheng and Hughes’s journey features determination, friendship, and unwavering belief. In addition, the Cardinal and Gold duo represent the domination and paint their future bright. However, the question remains: Will they make it a gold in the upcoming Olympics?

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Written by:

Yashika Dutta

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Yashika Dutta is a US Sports writer at EssentiallySports. She delved into the sports arena after a stint as a content writer for more than two years. Yashika has bagged the honor of securing the second position in the CBSE State Basketball Tournament, being a staunch basketball player from her school days.
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Edited by:

BHUJAYA RAY CHOWDHURY