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In rapid rise, Andy Benesh, Miles Partain climb atop U.S. men’s beach volleyball, reach Olympics

At the start of 2019, Andy Benesh was cold calling for a living, and Miles Partain was a high school junior.

This week, they mathematically clinched the first U.S. men’s volleyball spot in the Paris Olympics. They’re ranked fourth in the world.

Benesh, 29, and Partain, 22, will be the youngest U.S. men’s beach team in Olympic history (the sport debuted in 1996).

Partain will be the single youngest U.S. beach player in Olympic history, supplanting three-time gold medalist Misty May-Treanor, according to the OlyMADMen.

TEAM USA: Athletes qualified for Paris Olympics

American men won three of the first four Olympic beach volleyball tournaments in 1996, 2000 and 2008. They haven’t won a medal since.

Benesh finished his indoor college career at USC in 2017, played half a season with a balky back for a Swiss club, moved back to the U.S. and accepted a financial adviser job in March 2018.

Before passing the exams needed to start the gig, he began playing beach volleyball on the side. He finally started the job in September 2018, but quit by the following spring.

“After about eight months of cold calling 300 people a day (without much success), I felt the spark inside me growing,” Benesh wrote for “I couldn’t forget that feeling of qualifying (for tournaments), that desire to keep trying. My boss encouraged our team members to show a motivational video at the beginning of every day to get people ready to cold call. One day, one of my colleagues showed a video from a famous entrepreneur named Gary Vaynerchuk. He said, ‘If you are looking forward to Friday and dreading Monday, you are not doing what you are meant to do.’ That altered the direction of my life. That single quote gave me the courage to tell my boss I didn’t enjoy any aspect of the job. When he replied, ‘You’re not supposed to,’ — I quit. That wasn’t going to be how I lived my life. With a bunch of student debt and almost no money to my name, I bet big on myself. I was going to do everything I could to become a professional beach volleyball player.”

In November 2019, Benesh and Partain teamed in a one-off, winning a one-day Southern California tournament, when Partain was a high school senior and still playing indoors.

While Partain transitioned to UCLA, Benesh grinded professionally with seven different partners over the next three years. He didn’t forget about Partain, though.

“I always kind of knew I wanted to play with Miles,” Benesh, a 6-foot-9 blocker, said on a USA Volleyball on a podcast published in February. “Sometimes you’ve just got to be patient. Just knowing who he was, it was always in the back of my mind, maybe some day in the future it would happen.”

Partain was a promising prospect for years. At age 15, he became the youngest person to advance from qualifying into the main draw of a domestic AVP tournament, according to

So he had options when he decided as a college junior to follow his passion and go full-time to the beach. Partain had to leave UCLA’s indoor program to do so in February 2023. The Bruins won the program’s 20th NCAA title without him three months later.

“You never know everything, but I really wanted to play with (Benesh),” Partain said on the Sandcast podcast. “He’s also kind of in my age bracket, sort of. He went through the club scene, and then went to USC, sort of around when I was at UCLA. It was before (I was at UCLA), but we can relate on a lot of that stuff.”

A year ago at this time, neither Benesh nor Partain had played a main-draw match in a top-level international tournament.

In their debut on that stage last spring, they finished third. The next one, they won.

Between those two events, they beat each of the world’s current top three teams (one via retirement from a set ahead). They defeated Tokyo Olympic gold medalists Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway twice in one tournament, coming from a set down each time.

Like the world’s top pair, 23-year-old Swedes David Ahman and Jonatan Hellvig, they’ve implemented the revolutionary jump set attack that Partain has honed since his teens.

“Last year, our goal was just to be able to play against the best teams and play in the best tournaments in the world,” Benesh said. “Obviously, the Olympics is one of those.”

Former NBA player Chase Budinger and Miles Evans are in the driver’s seat for the second and last possible U.S. men’s team spot in Paris. The final tournament in qualifying is in early June.

The two U.S. women’s teams previously clinched spots — 2023 World champions Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes and Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss, who are ranked No. 2 in the world.

The 2024 U.S. Olympic team roster of athletes updated as they qualify.