Stanford sophomore makes fencing history at World Cup

Stanford sophomore fencer Alexander Massialas and his USA teammate Race Imboden became the first Team USA duo to ever finish first and second at a Men's Foil World Cup on Saturday in Seoul, South Korea.

The two Americans went head-to-head for the title with Massialas capturing his first career gold medal on the senior tour.

Alexander Massialas/Photo by John Todd/
He bested Imboden, who is ranked No. 11 in the world, by a score of 15-11 in the finals. It was the ninth medal for a top three finish in senior events for the San Francisco native, but the first time he has been at the top of the podium.

Along with Imboden, Massialas defeated four of the top 25 fencers in the world en route to his gold medal. His biggest victory came against the No. 2 fencer in the world, Alexey Cheremisinov of Russia in the round of 16.

It took two 15-14 victories to advance through the final field of 64 competitors. The first came against No. 16 Ryo Miyake of Japan in the round of 32 and the second against Cheremisinov in the round of 16.

Leading up to the finals, Massialas knocked out Ghislain Perrier from Brazil, 15-10, in the semifinals. He was able to move past No. 9 Enzo Lefort of France in the quarterfinals, 15-10 as well.

Massialas won all six of matches in pool play Friday.

The 32 points for winning the title put Massialas' 2013-14 total at 65. The most points he has accumulated on the senior circuit was 121 during the 2011-12 campaign.

Women's beach volleyball

The United States beach volleyball team of Stanford grad Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross picked up where it left off in 2013 by winning the gold medal at the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball Fuzhou Open in China on Sunday.

In the gold medal match, Walsh Jennings and Ross, seeded No. 4, needed just 33 minutes to defeat Brazil's Juliana Felisberta Silva and Maria Antonelli, 21-11, 21-18.

"It's all we wanted. We're always excited to be on the top of the podium," said Ross in an FIVB release. "All the best teams in the world came to this Open, because this is the first tournament of the season. It was a very, very tough tournament, a good indicator of how tough this season going to be."

Walsh Jennings, the three-time Olympic gold medalist with Misty May-Treanor, and Ross began their full-time partnership at the end of 2013 after Ross split with former partner Jennifer Kessy, with whom she won the silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Walsh Jennings and Ross won the final two FIVB Grand Slams of the season in Sao Paolo, Brazil and Xiamen, China together. The two veteran U.S. players are working hard amid high expectations.

"April and I are a new team," Walsh Jennings said. "We have to improve a lot. We are excited to improve. This Tour is going to make us so strong because everyone is great. We're looking forward to the challenge and we want to win gold in Rio."

Earlier in the day, Walsh Jennings and Ross came back from losing their first set of the tournament to beat China's No. 1 seeded Xue Chen and Xia Xinyi, 14-21, 21-15, 15-11 in 47 minutes in the semifinals.

The win in Fuzhou has confirmed Walsh Jennings as the most successful women's athlete in World Tour history.

It was her 47th World Tour gold medal, one more than Brazil's Larissa França and with Juliana on 45.

Overall, Walsh has won 69 FIVB international medals - 47 gold, 15 silver and seven bronze - from 90 events, equal with her former partner Misty May Treanor, but behind Juliana and Larissa (both 83 medals) and Brazilian legends Adriana Behar (86) and Shelda Bede (91).

Walsh Jennings is the third most successful athlete when also considering the men with Emanuel Rego (76 gold) and Ricardo Santos (55) one and two in the men's World Tour records ahead of another Brazilian Ze Marco de Melo (26).

Walsh Jennings and Ross gave Juliana and Antonelli a hard time in the first set, displaying solid defense in the back row and at the net and pulling away in the middle of the set.

The Brazilians started well in the second set, jumping 4-1 ahead, before the U.S. pair used an 8-2 run to take the lead. Brazil called timeout and returned to win three unanswered points to level at 9-9.

The lead changed hands several times after that until 17-17 before Brazil saved a match point and then Walsh Jennings secured the set and the title with a brilliant block on Juliana.

USA volleyball

Stanford freshmen Cole Friers and Kevin Rakestraw are among the 21 players chosen for the U.S. Men's Junior National Training Team (MJNTT).

The team will be cut down to 12 before competing at the NORCECA Under-21 Continental Championship on July 28-Aug. 3 in El Salvador.

The team will begin training together on July 13 at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y.

— Stanford Athletics


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