Kerri Walsh Jennings earned her legendary status long before taking the court with April Ross on Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Olympic beach volleyball competition in Rio.
Losing to the 2015 World champions, Brazil's Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas, 22-20, 21-18, will not dull the luster of three previous Olympic gold medals.
“I wasn’t afraid out there, it was very poor execution on my part in a very fundamental part of the game and we played a match against an amazing team. We never gave up, but we never got our space," Walsh Jennings said. “We’ll be very proud to win tomorrow and we’ll have to give it everything because those girls will be pissed from today, they probably had a night like we did today. I think Talita had some issues and I want to attack her and make her feel very uncomfortable, but I want to focus on my handling and everything else will take care of itself.”
The Americans had won three of the previous four meetings on the FIVB World Tour, but the two teams hadn't played since July of 2015.
The U.S. duo play another team from Brazil for the bronze medal, which would give Walsh an unprecedented fourth consecutive Olympic medal in the sport.
Walsh Jennings has played in 86 FIVB World Tour final fours with 54 gold, 18 silver, nine bronze medals and five 4th place finishes.
Walsh Jennings, a Stanford grad, and Ross, out of USC, have played in 11 Final Fours in 2015-2016 (Bronze Fuzhou Open 2015, 4th Gstaad Major 2015, Silver Long Beach Grand Slam 2015, Gold Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam 2016, Silver Vitória Open 2016, Bronze Xiamen Open 2016, Gold Fuzhou Open 2016, Gold Cincinnati Open 2016, Gold Moscow Grand Slam 2016, 4th Hamburg Major 2016, Silver Gstaad Major 2016).
In the first set, Ross and Walsh Jennings broke a 16-16 tie to lead 18-16 when the Brazilians scored three-straight points to take a 19-18 edge.
The Americans tied it at 19s and 20s before Brazil scored the final two points.
In the second set, Ross and Walsh Jennings led only once and tied the Brazilians three times at 8s, 9s and 11s.
The next eight net-crossing rally was with the Brazilians leading 16-14 and featured three blocks by Agatha to give the winners a three-point cushion as Ross and Walsh Jennings failed to get any closer than two points down the stretch.