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Van Winden, Sonny Win Gold Medal at Porec Open in Croatia

Van Winden, Sonny Win Gold Medal at Porec Open in Croatia

POREC, Croatia — Competing in their first-ever FIVB World Tour event as players and as a team, Cal Poly beach volleyball sophomores Emily Sonny and Torrey Van Winden won seven-straight Porec Open matches while competing for Team USA en route to winning the Porec Open title Sunday with a gold medal victory over Inna and Iryna Makhno of the Ukraine.

In becoming the 16th team in the 27-season, 364-event history of the women's FIVB World Tour to win a gold medal after playing in an event's qualification tournament to earn a spot in a Main Draw, Sonny and Van Winden, who came in to the tournament as the lowest seed (16th), posted a 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) win over the third-seeded Makhnos to capture the Porec Open title. They also became the first ever team to win the event as the lowest seed.

To reach the championship, Sonny and Van Winden posted a 2-1 (19-21, 21-10, 15-9 win over Dimitra Manavi and Konstantina Tsopoulou of Greece. Prior to the semifinals, Sonny and Van Winden defeated teams from Italy, Hungary, Ukraine, Poland and Austria.

Sonny and Van Winden earned a spot on Team USA by placing third in the USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Pairs Championship in mid-May, becoming the first Cal Poly beach players to compete for Team USA. All the teams were vying for a 10,000 EUR prize money pot but because Sonny and Van Winden competed as amateurs they will not receive any of that money.

The duo now heads to Munich, Germany to compete in the World University Championships this coming week while continuing to represent Team USA.