A noisy reminder of their strong alliance and potential world dominance dangles from their necks. At the bottom of a gold chain lie small circular discs etched with the words “Tokyo 2020” and “Redbear,” the former a reference to their intended Olympic destination and the latter their informal nickname.
Kelly Claes wears the necklace during every match. Her partner, Sara Hughes, wears it everywhere except for matches — because as a zigzagging defender, it tends to smack her in the face.
“Every time I hear it jingle, I think about it,” Claes said of the necklaces her mother gave the pair last year. “And it’s always jingling.”
No young duo in women’s beach volleyball is...