Kerri Walsh Jennings returns for her 5th straight Olympic Games and is once again poised to capture Olympic Gold. Walsh Jennings turns 38 during the games, but hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down as she seeks her illustrious 4th straight Olympic gold medal. This time around, on the Copacabana Beach of Rio, Walsh Jennings is without her 3-time gold medal-winning partner Misty May Treanor. The remarkable duo of Walsh/May never lost a single match in their run of 3-straight Olympic gold medals from 2004-2012.
In fact, the team Walsh Jennings & May Treanor beat to win their 3rd straight gold back in the 2012 London Olympics was another American team. And that silver medal US team featured Walsh Jennings’ new partner on the beach, April Ross (34). Ross was named FIVB’s Best Server in 2015, and she compliments Walsh Jennings’ net play very nicely. This new American duo didn’t skip a beat in qualifying play, going 72-19 against Olympic-bound/qualifying teams.
Their kryptonite in international play thus far has been Larissa & Talita, who represent the host nation Brazil. The Brazilian duo is 5-1 in matchups against Walsh Jennings & Ross thus far. Now, they have home-court advantage, and a nation excited for its first-ever gold medal in beach volleyball since the game’s introduction in 1996.
In addition to the Walsh Jennings/Ross team, the US will field another women’s team in Lauren Fendrick (35) and Brooke Sweat (30). Both players will be competing in their first-ever Olympic games and have something to prove on the international stage. Fendrick/Sweat had the misfortune of drawing the fifteenth seed, and were put in Group A, where the dominant Brazilian pair of Larissa & Talita awaits. The rest of the women’s beach volleyball pools for Rio can be found below.
The full schedule for all US Men/Women’s Beach Volleyball teams can be found HERE – via teamusa.org