POOL C: WALSH JENNINGS/ROSS VS. SWITZERLAND (FORRER/VERGÉ-DÉPRÉ)
After dominating their first two matches, the top American tandem of Kerri Walsh Jennings & April Ross looked to sweep Pool C Wednesday night. Their final opponent was much more difficult than expected as they faced the aggressive Swiss team of Isabelle Forrer & Anouk Vergé-Dépré. Walsh Jennings & Ross began their final game in Pool C with yet another flawless performance. They started the first set on an 8-1 run with Switzerland’s only point coming from an April Ross service fault. Looking virtually unstoppable, Walsh Jennings & Ross cruised to a first set victory, 21-13.
The second set was much more competitive as each team went on runs of their own and battled point-for-point to gain an advantage. The difference was Switzerland’s stifling defense, countering almost every kill attempt April Ross threw at them. Team USA dropped the set, 24-22, which was only the 2nd set ever lost by Kerri Walsh Jennings in her illustrious Olympic career (48-2 set record).
The fearless Swiss pair gave everything they had in the final set, but the deciding factor was ultimately the ageless play of Kerri Walsh Jennings (5 blocks- 16 total in Olympics) & April Ross’ incredible defensive saves (15 digs). Team USA held on to win the third set, 15-12, and will advance to the Round of 16 by winning Pool C. Despite the two set scare, Walsh Jennings & Ross remain in top form and look extremely focused on their mission to win a 4th straight gold medal for Team USA.
POOL C RESULTS
*Walsh Jennings/Ross (USA) – 6 pts
*Wang F/Yue Y (CHN) – 5 pts
*Forrer/Vergé-Dépré (SUI) – 4 pts
Artacho/Laird (AUS) – 3 pts
*advance to Round of 16
POOL A: FENDRICK/SWEAT VS. RUSSIA (BIRLOVA/UKOLOVA)
The other US tandem of Lauren Fendrick & Brooke Sweat went into a win-or-go-home situation Thursday afternoon as they faced the Russian team of Ekaterina Birlova & Evgenia Ukolova. Lauren Fendrick came out on fire, serving two aces as Team USA quickly went up 6-3. However, Russia rebounded with a 7-1 run of their own, as Fendrick/Sweat made some crucial unforced errors during the Russian run. Birlova/Ukolova tactfully countered almost every attack Team USA threw back at them, and won the first set, 21-18.
Fendrick/Sweat came out in the second set the same way they started the match, on a 4-1 run and looking to make a comeback. This time, they ended the second set much differently by utilizing lob shots on kill attempts to neutralize Russia’s length at the net. Birlova/Ukolova battled back to force 5 set points, but Fendrick/Sweat finally broke through, winning the set 26-24 to keep their Olympic dreams alive.
In the third set, Fendrick/Sweat fought until the bitter end, going back-and-forth with Russia until the final match point. In the end, Birlova/Ukolova’s height and length proved to be the winning edge over the inexperienced American tandem. Russia went on to win the final set, 15-13.
Brooke Sweat had one of the gutsiest performances of Rio thus far, playing through a shoulder injury and still finishing with 17 total digs. The US team of Lauren Fendrick & Brooke Sweat are officially eliminated from the Olympics, but played fearlessly until the final whistle in every match.
POOL A RESULTS
*Larissa/Talita (BRA) – 6 pts
*Kołsińska/Brzostek (POL) – 5 pts
^Birlova/Ukolova (RUS) – 4 pts
Fendrick/Sweat (USA) – 3 pts
*advance to Round of 16
^advance to Lucky Losers Bracket