Stanford grad Kerri Walsh Jennings and USC grad April Ross are the proud new owners of an Olympic bronze medal in Beach Volleyball, an achievement that they grew to appreciate coming home from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
They took the sand in the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball featuring the $800,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam for the first time since conquering Brazilians Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes to capture third place, but it's upward and onward once again for the stars from the United States.
The American duo won their first two matches Thursday and their first two main draw matches Friday.
They meet Germany's Julia Sude and Chantal Laboureur in Saturday's semifinal.
The 2016 FIVB World Tour regular season is concluding in the United States with the double-gender ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball being held Tuesday through Sunday on a colorful purpose-built venue at Alamitos Beach adjacent to Marina Green Park on East Shoreline Drive.
"We got home Friday and Saturday (respectively), took some time with our family and showed up to practice (Tuesday) and we were a little slow and our coach (Marcio Sicoli) stopped it in the middle," Ross said. "He was like 'Snap into it, we've got a tournament to play.' He kind of got us going and said we need to be here mind, body and soul and just realizing that and showing up with that intention was important."
Their intentions were pure as top-seeded Walsh Jennings-Ross won their two pool-play matches in the final regular season event on the 2016 FIVB World Tour.
"This is a huge tournament, the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, it's the best in the world, were fighting for another gold medal," Walsh Jennings said. "It's not the Olympic gold medal but the prize money is huge, the exposure is huge for our sport so we need to show up. People are showing up to see us play how we played in Rio with that heart and that flag on our chest. We're here to do our best."