HAMBURG, Germany – In a tight battle between the top four seeded women’s beach volleyball teams at the Hamburg Major, April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings walked away with a fourth-place finish.
The three-tournament gold medal streak for April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings was snapped at the final FIVB World Tour event of Olympic qualification, the Hamburg Major, on Saturday night. The pair fell to Brazil’s Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes 21-15, 21-17 in the bronze medal match.
Following highly contested elimination matches against Canada’s Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas, 21-17, 12-21, 15-5, and then Sarah Pavan/Heather Bansley, 21-17, 21-19, Ross and Walsh Jennings rounded out Saturday flooring through the quarterfinal win against Spain, 21-17, 21-14.
In the semifinals, Hamburg’s hometown team Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst topped the American duo in a final set that saw both teams claw for any advantage available. The three setter went 21-16, 19-21, 16-14 and placed the Americans into the bronze medal match against Brazil’s Larissa/Talita.
For bronze, the U.S. fell behind quickly, opening the match trailing 6-1. Brazil pulled away 14-7 before taking it 21-15. In the second set, the U.S. was never able to gain a lead and past the halfway mark, the closest Ross/Walsh Jennings were able to close the gap was at 14-12 before losing 21-17.
“We had an up and down tournament the whole time,” said Walsh Jennings. “You can get away with certain things with other teams, the deeper you go in the tournament the more that’s exposed.”
It was the first time since 2015 that the duo didn’t medal, but not all was lost at the tournament. Ross and Walsh Jennings will remain as the third seed in Olympic standings, which closes officially on June 12 at the conclusion of the tournament.
The USA’s two other main draw teams also had their week’s cut short. Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat tied for 17th following a loss in the first round to Argentina, 21-12, 17-21, 18-16. Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day went 0-3 in pool play, tying them for 25th.
Amanda Dowdy and Emily Stockman were eliminated in the second round of qualification. Fendrick/Sweat and Dowdy/Stockman will stay overseas to play at next week’s FIVB World Tour Olsztyn Grand Slam in Poland.
Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena will face Brazil’s Alison Cerutti/Bruno Schmidt in Sunday’s men’s semifinal.
WEEK IN REVIEW
FIVB Hamburg Major
– Kerri Walsh Jennings/April Ross placed fourth, their first tournament in 2016 where they didn’t medal – dating back to the 2015 Rio Open (Sept.; 9th place)
– Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena will play Brazil’s Alison/Bruno Schmidt in the semifinals on Sunday
– Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson tied for fifth, their fifth Top 5 finish in 2016
– Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat tied for 17th; despite not improving their ranking points, the duo satisfied their Olympic qualification requirements on June 10
– Theo Brunner/Billy Allen tied for 17th in their first international event together, Allen’s FIVB debut
– Jennifer Kessy/Emily Day tied for 25th, the first time in the last eight tournaments the pair did not advance out of pool play
– John Hyden/Tri Bourne tied for 25th, their lowest finish as a team since April 2014
– Lost in qualification: Amanda Dowdy/Emily Stockman lost in the second round of qualification
June 14-19 Olsztyn Grand Slam
June 16-19 AVP New York City
June 23-25 NVL San Antonio
June 23-26 AVP San Francisco
June 28-July 3 Porec Major
July 1-3 NORCECA North Bay
July 5-10 Gstaad Major
July 9 *Tentative* announcement of Olympic pool placements
July 14-16 NVL Columbus
July 14-17 AVP Manhattan Beach Open
Aug. 5-18 Olympic Games beach volleyball matches
Aug. 11-13 NVL Hermosa Beach
Aug. 23-28 Long Beach Grand Slam
Aug. 26-28 NVL Virginia Beach
Sept. 1-4 AVP Chicago
Sept. 8-12 NVL Port St. Lucie
Sept. 13-18 Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals
Oct. 11-16 Puerto Vallarta Open