Beach volleyball at the Olympics consists of two tournaments: one for the men, and one for the women. Each tournament is made up of 24 teams, which qualified for the Games by placing high enough in previous world rankings.
A beach volleyball teams consists of two players. While a given player may be especially skilled at setting, digging, blocking, or hitting, each member of a team will do some of everything during a match. Two common roles are blocker and setter.
Blocker: The blocker is usually the biggest and most physical player on the team and may block at the net on every play, including when s/he serves. After hitting a serve, the blocker may run to the net and get into position to block the opponent's attack.
Setter: When a team has control of the ball, the setter's job is to bump the ball into a position for his/her teammate to execute an attacking hit.
Beach volleyball will be contested at the Horse Guards Parade in the Central Zone in London.
The United States swept the beach volleyball events at the 2008 Games. The men's duo of Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser overcame a loss in their first game to rip off five consecutive wins for the gold medal. In the final, they defeated Marcio Araujo and Fabio Luiz Magalhaes of Brazil in three sets, 23-21,17-21, 15-4. Dalhausser was named tournament MVP. In the bronze-medal matchup, defending Olympic gold medalists Ricardo Santos and Emanuel Rego of Brazil defeated Brazilian natives competing for Georgia, Renato "Geor" Gomes and Jorge "Gia" Terceiro in two games.
In the women's tournament, Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor defended their gold medal from 2004 without losing a single game. In a soggy final, the duo defeated Tian Jia and Wang Fei of China, 21-18, 21-18, to become the first two-time Olympic champions. The bronze medal also went to China, thanks to Xue Chen and Zhang Xi.