Kelly Cheng

Kelly Cheng, born Kelly Marie Claes in 1995, is an American beach volleyball powerhouse whose name is synonymous with excellence on the sand. Her journey began in Fullerton, California, where volleyball roots ran deep in her family. Following in her father’s footsteps, a former collegiate baseball player, Kelly’s talent blossomed early, earning her first accolades at El Dorado High School.

But greatness wasn’t destined for the sidelines. At the University of Southern California, Kelly teamed up with Sara Hughes, and their dominance became legendary. Together, they captured a bronze medal at the U19 FIVB World Championships. Back home, they redefined collegiate volleyball, claiming back-to-back NCAA Championships for the USC Trojans in 2016 and 2017. Kelly’s individual brilliance shone through, earning her the Pac-12 Player of the Year award twice and solidifying her status as a rising star.

Turning professional, Kelly carried her momentum forward. With Sara by her side, they etched their names in history, becoming the youngest duo to win an AVP Gold Series event. Despite their eventual split, Kelly found a new partner in Sarah Sponcil. This dynamic partnership yielded back to back gold medals at the 2019 FIVB four-star events and, most importantly, a hard-fought ticket to the Tokyo Olympics.

But 2023 witnessed Kelly’s crowning achievement. Claiming the name Cheng after her marriage, she and Sara Hughes reunited on the sand. This rekindled flame proved unstoppable, culminating in a glorious victory at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships. Kelly Cheng, the young prodigy, stood atop the world, a testament to unwavering dedication, fierce talent, and the enduring power of partnership.

Kelly’s story isn’t just about titles and trophies; it’s about grit, passion, and inspiring a generation of future beach volleyball stars. As she sets her sights on the 2024 Paris Olympics, one thing is certain: Kelly Cheng’s journey is far from over. The world beckons, and she, with her indomitable spirit, is ready to answer. 


September 18, 1995


Placentia, CA


6′ 2″

Beach Volleyball Team USA 2023 FIVB World Champion

USC beach volleyball All-Americans Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes claimed gold medals at the 14th Beach Volleyball World Championships on Sunday, Oct. 15. As a result of their win, the U.S. secures a berth into the women’s tournament at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.


  • FIVB World Tour Finals: Qatar – Gold Medal – Partner, Sara Hughes


  • FIVB World Tour Elite 16: Australia – Gold Medal – Partner, Sara Hughes
  • FIVB World Tour Challenger: Australia – Gold Medal – Partner, Sara Hughes
  • AVP Tour Huntington Beach Open: USA – 1st Place – Partner, Sara Hughes
  • AVP Tour Best Offensive Player: USA
  • AVP Tour Most Valuable Player: USA
  • FIVB World Tour Elite 16: Germany – Gold Medal


  • FIVB World Tour Elite 16: Czechia – Gold Medal
  • FIVB World Tour Elite 16: Russia – Gold Medal


  • Olympic Games: Japan 9th Place


  • AVP Tour Chicago Open: USA – 1st Place* – Partner, Sara Hughes
    * Youngest Team In History To Win An AVP Championship


  • World University Games: USA – Gold Medal – Partner, Sara Hughes


  • FIVB U21 World Championship: USA – Bronze Medal – Partner, Sara Hughes
  • NCAA Career Record: USC – 147-4 – Partner, Sara Hughes
  • NCAA Undefeated Season: USC – Jr. Season – Partner, Sara Hughes
  • 3 NCAA Championships: USC – Partner, Sara Hughes
  • NCAA 3 Time All-American: USC – Partner, Sara Hughes


  • FIVB U19 World Championships: Portugal – Gold Medal – Partner, Sara Hughes
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