Beach volleyball is one of everyone’s favorite sports – stop by any beach around the world and you’re likely to find a net strung up somewhere with people playing a casual game. It’s also unquestionably one of the most popular under the radar sports. It may not have the following that the big sports like the NFL or NHL have in North America, or football (soccer) has in Europe, but beach volleyball games at events like the Olympics are one of the most popular. Snagging tickets to sit by the sand as two duos face off can be a difficult endeavour, because everyone wants to be there.
So why is beach volleyball so popular? It’s a perfect mix of competition, skill and teeny uniforms. First of all, there’s very little down time in a beach volleyball game – someone is always either hitting the ball or preparing to hit it. Points add up quickly, and you’ll never see a 0-0 result at the game’s end like you might see with some team sports. It’s also great to see the interactions between the duos – they train together, play together, so they become a well-oiled machine, and it’s something that’s a pleasure to watch.
Duos of female athletes around the world come together for beach volleyball competitions, representing every nation from Sweden to Spain. They’re in crazy shape and their small bikini outfits leave little to the imagination. Most people might not know the names of beach volleyball players unless they’re big fans of the sport, but one thing is for sure – everyone wants the muscled physiques that beach volleyball players have. They’re tan, toned and in peak condition.
When looking at the most physically attractive players in a sport, the few players who could double as models are often mixed amongst a sea of scraggly beards or off-season bellies. However, in beach volleyball, it’s not exactly difficult to come up with a list of the hottest players who step foot onto the sand – it’s just tough to pick which of them makes the top 15.
Here are 15 of the hottest beach volleyball players.
15 Sanne Keizer
Sanne Keizer represents the Netherlands on the international stage and has had quite the career so far. She started her volleyball career when she was just eleven, and slowly rose in the ranks as part of the Dutch national youth teams. When she was 17, she got her start in beach volleyball in particular, and though she was an under 18 World Champion with her first partner, Arjanne Stevens, she found Marrit Leenstra in 2005 and the two have been doing the Dutch proud for a decade.
14 Misty May-Treanor
May-Treanor is likely the most well known name in beach volleyball, and is one half of the American beach dream team of herself and Kerri Walsh-Jennings. May-Treanor got her start at beach volleyball when she was only eight years old, and has gone on to win three Olympic gold medals – consecutively since 2004, she’s won a gold every year. Don't bet against her getting that number up to four at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
13 Rachel Wacholder Scott
While May-Treanor and Walsh-Jennings are the most well known duo in American beach volleyball, Rachel Wacholder Scott isn’t content to get left in the dust – she’s even the one who, with her partner Elaine Youngs, put a stop to the dream team’s 50 game winning streak. She’s had several partners over the course of her beach volleyball career and snagged many championship titles. She has also received many individual accolades, such as being named Best Defensive Player and Most Improved Player of the AVP women in 2005. She also models on the side, of course.
12 Elsa Baquerizo McMillan
Though she was born in the Big Apple, Baquerizo calls Spain home and has been repping her nation’s colors for a few years. While she hasn’t yet attained the success of some of the biggest beach volleyball superstars ten years her senior, she’s definitely a rising star. She plays with Liliana Fernandez, and has been for the past three years. The pair finished ninth at the 2012 Summer Olympics, but they’ve likely been training hard since then and are ready to burst onto the scene next year.
11 Kristyna Kolocova
Kolocova (on the right of the photo) is Czechoslovakia’s gift to beach volleyball. Unlike some of the beach volleyball players who were running to the sand when they were still children, Kolocova got bit by the beach bug at a relatively advanced age. While she played regular volleyball for awhile, she only started really getting into beach volleyball at the age of seventeen, according to her website. She’s been playing with her partner Marketa Slukova for several years, and the two placed fifth at the 2012 Olympics. They’re likely looking for that gold medal next year.
10 Marketa Slukova
"If you ever feel like giving up, just remember there is at least one little girl watching who wants to be just like you. Don't disappoint her." You never know who you are inspiring...it is worth to hang in there #motivation #justhanginthere #Bearolemodel #tb #fivbPragueopen #beachvolleyball #dig #inaction #girlspower #adidascz
The other half of the Kolcova-Slukova duo, Marketa Slukova, is as much of a blonde bombshell as her partner. The 26 year old Czech native, known to many by her nickname ‘Maki,’ was born in Prague and was always a big athlete. Her first love was gymnastics, and she was a gymnast for seven years before switching gears and putting her athletic attention towards volleyball. Slukova even went to a high school that offered a specialized volleyball class, which is incidentally where she met Kristyna Kolocova, who is still her partner to this day.
9 Larissa Franca
Franca is a seasoned veteran in the beach volleyball world, having debuted professionally in 2001 (although she was playing regular volleyball at a high level since 1997). Within two years, Franca and teammate Ana Richa had snagged a bronze medal at the 2003 Pan American Games. Franca then paired up with Juliana Felisberta Silva and the duo won a SWATCH medal in their first international event together. The duo went on to set a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour record in single-season earnings, pocketing over $400,000 in winnings for their six gold medals and 14 podium placements. Franca shows no signs of slowing down and continues to dominate.
8 Sara Goller
German player Sara Goller (on the left) has been paired with her current partner Laura Ludwig for over a decade, and the duo is obviously very much in sync. They were 2006 German Champions, won the U23 European Championships, and earned several gold and silver medals at various international beach volleyball competitions. The pair have yet to snag an Olympic gold, but they’re likely training hard and hoping to have one hanging around their necks soon.
7 Talita Antunes
Antunes’ athletic career started when she impressed legendary Brazilian beach volleyball player Jackie Silva, who is now retired. Silva was a part of the Brazilian women’s national volleyball team when she was merely 14 years old and she shot to superstardom, winning a gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games. Silva saw potential in the young Brazilian and took her under her wing. The duo won the South American Championship in 2002, but an injury on Silva’s part ended the duo’s time together. Antunes bounced between partners, from Renata Ribeiro to Maria Elisa Antonelli and more. The frequent switches in her partners has had an effect on her career – while she has won many championships, one can’t help but wonder how she would be doing with a consistent partner.
6 Ilka Semmler
German player Ilka Semmler is one tall drink of water, standing 6’0 (as the majority of beach volleyball players do). The 29 year old Aachen native, who resides now in Berlin, has been partnered with Katrin Holtwick since 2006 and the pair seems to be getting better and better. Her winnings from tournaments may be relatively small in comparison to some of the more well known duos whose winnings have shot over the one million mark, but Semmler keeps working hard. In 2013, several years into her career, she won the title of FIVB Best Setter.
5 Zara Dampney
Dampney is a British beach volleyball player who is from Dorset. Like many beach volleyball players, she got her start in indoor volleyball and eventually made the switch to sunnier, sandier pastures. Unlike many athletes, she was resolute and got her degree before venturing into the world of professional sports, graduating from the University of Sheffield before debuting on the Federation Internationale de Volleyball tour in 2009. While many beach volleyball superstars are from warmer climates, this English rose has been a favorite of the public since she started. At the London 2012 Summer Olympics, she had home court advantage and the British nation absolutely adored both Dampney and her partner Shauna Mullin.
4 Maria Clara Salgado Rufino
Fechando feliz essa segunda semana de treinos! Poucos dias pra etapa de Fortaleza e eu já tô doida pra voltar a jogar! @mariaclaraecarolina Second week of practice is over and im already excited to play again!! Only 5 days till our 1st stop in Fortaleza #equipefurnas #verãonorio #voleidepraia #nikemulheres #beachvolleyball #niketeam #nikewomen #stillsomuchtodo
In the Salgado family, beach volleyball is a family affair. Maria Clara has been paired with her sister Carolina since 2003, and the duo are even coached by mother Isabel. Their brother Pedro even plays! It’s not just because she’s their mother, however – Isabel herself competed on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour and managed one gold medal and six podium placements. While Maria Clara has played with other volleyball stars, such as Talita Antunes, Jackie Silva, and more, the chemistry that two sisters have on the sand is incomparable. The sisters set a record for being the first daughters of a SWATCH medalist to grab a podium spot, and who knows – any future Salgado offspring could turn it into a three-generation stretch.
3 Siri Bjorkesett
Norway isn’t necessarily the first country you think of when you picture sunny beach volleyball, but Bjorkesett likely has many sitting up and paying attention when she comes onto the court. This blonde Scandinavian bombshell lives in Oslo and made her international debut in 2007. She’s played with several partners including Ragnhild Aas, Vilde Solvoll and more. While she might not be the most well known name in volleyball, she’s definitely one of the most striking.
2 Marta Menegatti
At only 24, Italian player Marta Menegatti has many years ahead of her, but one thing is for sure – she’s one of the most gorgeous beach volleyball players on the circuit right now. She’s had a bit of trouble securing a partner that will help her get to the top – after bouncing through a few partners, she teamed up with Greta Cicolari and the duo qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics. They made it all the way to the quarter-finals before being taken down by the American dream team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings. She’s since switched teammates and has been playing with Viktoria Orsi Toth. Menegatti and Orsi Toth have been doing well, and who knows what the future will bring for Menegatti if she manages to secure and keep a strong partner.
1 Jennifer Kessy
Jen Kessy is basically the dictionary definition of a California beach babe, and the American player has been a big name in the world of beach volleyball for years. She’s played with April Ross for seven years, from 2007 to 2013, and the duo have won countless titles together. Kessy herself has well over a million dollars in prize money from her successful volleyball career thus far, and was even a CoverGirl for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Alongside Ross, Kessy managed to snag a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics, coming second only to the American dream team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings.