GSTAAD, Switzerland – In their final international event ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games, April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings won silver at the Gstaad Major.
USA’s two Olympic bound women’s teams finished in the Top 5 at the final World Tour event prior to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. From Switzerland, the United States’ top seeded women’s team April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings lost in the final to Brazil on Saturday afternoon, 21-18, 21-14. Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat tied for fifth place.
The gold medal match was the fifth meeting of April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brazil’s Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes. Brazil now holds a 4-1 series lead with the win on Saturday.
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.
“I’m proud of how we’ve played, how we battled in the semifinal. I think we got better at some things. It’s a good result but unsatisfying at the same time, which will serve us going into Rio in the weeks of preparation. I’m pissed about this loss, it feels terrible to stand where we were standing at the end. I’m very motivated after this.”
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 afterward. “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.
USA had three additional women’s teams place in the Top 25 in Gstaad. Olympic bound Fendrick and Sweat finished fifth, for the third time in 2016. Lane Carico and Summer Ross tied for ninth and Kimberly DiCello and Kendra Vanzwieten tied for 25th.
For Fendrick/Sweat, the duo opened the tournament with a victory over Ross/Walsh Jennings in pool play, winning 15-21, 21-19, 15-13. They split their next two pool matches and followed with a round one win against China and another victory in the second round against Finland. Their tournament was cut short when they were eliminated in the quarterfinal by The Netherlands’ Madelein Meppelink/Marleen Van Iersel, 17-21, 21-16, 15-13.
On Saturday the FIVB will announce the pools for the 2016 Olympic Games.
WEEK IN REVIEW
FIVB Gstaad Major
– April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings won silver, their seventh medal of 2016
– Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat finished fifth, their third quarterfinal finish in 2016
– Tied for 9th: Trevor Crabb/Taylor Crabb; Lane Carico/Summer Ross
– Tied for 17th: John Hyden/Tri Bourne
– Tied for 25th: Sean Rosenthal/Jeremy Casebeer; Kimberly DiCello/Kendra Vanzwieten
– Lost in qualification: Ryan Doherty/John Mayer; Irene Pollock/Caitlin Ledoux
Still to play: Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson; Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena
July 14-16 NVL Columbus
July 14-17 AVP Manhattan Beach Open
July 15-17 NORCECA Varadero
Aug. 5-18 Olympic Games beach volleyball matches
Aug. 5-7 NORCECA Boqueron
Aug. 11-13 NVL Hermosa Beach
Aug. 23-28 Long Beach Grand Slam
Aug. 26-28 NVL Virginia Beach