April Ross achieved a career milestone here Friday, but winning two elimination matches with Stanford grad Kerri Walsh Jennings took precedent as the Americans joined teams from Brazil, Germany and The Netherlands in Saturday's "final four" for this week's US$800,000 Gstaad Major as the Swiss Alps village hosts a women's FIVB World Tour event for the 17-straight year.
The second-seeded Ross and Walsh Jennings will play third-seeded Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany in Saturday's second semi-final after seventh-seeded Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands challenge top-seeded and defending Gstaad Major champions Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil. The winning two teams will be competing Saturday afternoon for the Gstaad Major gold medals and the $57,000 first-place prize.
The Brazilians have won six-straight matches from Meppelink and Van Iersel on the FIVB World Tour, including a quarterfinal win last month at the smart Major Hamburg. Ross and Walsh Jennings hold a 4-1 international edge over Ludwig and Walkenhorst, but the Germans defeated the Americans in the smart Major Hamburg semi-finals.
Ross, who became the ninth women's player to win 500 FIVB World Tour matches in her first contest Friday, and Walsh Jennings advanced to their 17th international "final four" in 28 FIVB events with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) quarter-final win in 33 minutes over 18th-seeded Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler of Germany. It was the second win of the Gstaad Major for Ross and Walsh Jennings over the Germans with a pool play win Thursday.
Before winning for the third time in four FIVB meetings with Holtwick and Semmler, Ross and Walsh Jennings advanced to the quarter-finals with a 2-0 (21-14, 21-12) win in 31 minutes over 26th-seeded qualifiers Lane Carico and Summer Ross of the United States. It was Ross' 500th FIVB match win as she and Walsh Jennings have won three of four FIVB meetings with their American rivals.