Stanford volleyball grad the most successful on beach tour

The U.S. 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, the No. 4-seeded duo of Walsh Jennings and Ross needed just 33 minutes to defeat Brazil's Juliana Felisberta Silva and Maria Antonelli, 21-11, 21-18.

With the win, Walsh Jennings became the most successful women's athlete in World Tour history. The win was her 47th on the World Tour, one more than Brazil's Larissa França with Juliana. 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).

"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 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.


Palo Alto High grad T.J. Braff had a sacrifice fly for Santa Clara in an 8-7 victory in eight innings over visiting Loyola Marymounta in West Coast Conference action Sunday. The victory gave the Broncos (10-8, 19-24) a 2-1 edge in the three-game series.

Women's golf

Stanford grad Michelle Wie shot rounds of 72-72-71-71 for a 286 total and tied for ninth while earning $35,257 at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic that wrapped up Sunday at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City.

Directors' Cup

Stanford maintained its lead in the final winter standings for the Division I Learfield Sports Directors' Cup. The Cardinal finished seventh in women's gymnastics and end the winter with 1,151 total points.

Penn State remains in second place with 924.25 points after placing seventh in women's gymnastics. Florida moves into third place with 727 points. The Gators won a split national championship in women's gymnastics.

With 718.25 points, in fourth place, is Michigan. The Wolverines finished seventh in women's gymnastics. Rounding out the top five is Wisconsin with 705 total points.

The first standings for spring will be released May 29.

— Palo Alto Online Sports


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