Sports

Walsh, Ross take silver medal on the beach into Olympics

 

In their final international event ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games, April Ross and Stanford grad Kerri Walsh Jennings won silver at the Gstaad Major.

USA's two Olympic bound women's teams finished in the Top five at the final World Tour event prior to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

In Switzerland, the United States' top seeded women's team of Ross and Walsh Jennings lost in the final to Brazil on Saturday, 21-18, 21-14. Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat tied for fifth place.

The gold medal match was the fifth meeting of April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brazil's Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes. Brazil holds a 4-1 series lead.

In the opening set, play was fairly close, tying at 4-4, 9-9 and 10-10 before USA got its first lead, 11-10. Ross and Walsh Jennings had their last lead at 17-16 before the Brazilians gained control and didn't let up, winning the stanza 21-18.

Trailing 4-0 to start the second set made it difficult for Ross and Walsh Jennings to close the gap. The pair were defeated 21-14 to seal a silver-medal finish.

"We had chances, we were more on them on defense than we were in the semifinal," said Ross. "We weren't able to capitalize on plays that we did make on defense. We need tighten it up and then sideout better and watch video."

In the semifinal, against third-seeded Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, Ross and Walsh Jennings dropped the first frame 18-21. In the second set, Germany reached match point at 20-17 but a series of German miscues aided USA in tying it 20-all. A service mistake by Ludwig was followed by a Walsh Jennings block and kill for the U.S. to extend the match to three sets, 23-21.

"We were down 20-17 this match and we came together," said Walsh Jennings. "We got bigger and dug deep, it makes me so proud. Kira and Laura have been part of our growth and I appreciate that."

In the third, after being tied at 7-7, Ross and Walsh Jennings pulled ahead and maintained the lead to the end, winning 15-11.

"April and I got more confident," said Walsh Jennings. "We kind of let go a little bit. We said we aren't going down without a fight and we fought. They started making mistakes and we got momentum and we kept it up."

Against the Olympic bound teams that have qualified, Ross and Walsh Jennings are 72-19.

— FIVB

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