Kessy, Ross to Play China for Gold in Phuket

Nov. 05, 2011, 10:09 a.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: (719) 228-6800

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Nov. 5, 2011) – The second-seeded U.S. women’s beach volleyball team of Jen Kessy and April Ross will play China’s top-ranked Chen Xue and Xi Zhang for the gold medal on Sunday at the Phuket Thailand Open, the final event of the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour.

Kessy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) defeated Italy’s fifth-seeded Marta Menegatti and Greta Cicolari, 21-18, 21-19 in 44 minutes in Saturday’s semifinal.

After finessing their way through a tight first set, Kessy and Ross came back from a 12-16 deficit in the second set to defeat the Italy’s tenacious Cicolari and Menegatti.

“The Italians played well, we just came up with key plays at the right time that sends us to the gold medal match again here in Phuket,” Kessy said in an FIVB press release. “They played better in the second set and after we got done by four points late in the set, we didn’t panic and both of us were able to make the kind of plays we are capable of, especially with our transition setting. We knew it would be a battle and it was and they are a team getting better and better but we used our strengths today to defeat them.”

In the first semifinal, China’s Xue and Zhang overcame a knee injury to Zhang early in the second set to win fifth straight match in two sets in Phuket, defeating Australia’s 19th-seeded Louise Bawden and Becchara Palmer, 21-18, 21-13 in 43 minutes.

After controlling the first set, the score was tied 1-1 in the second set when Zhang went down hard on the Karon Beach sand, injuring her left knee. After on-site medical personnel treated her, LZhang, playing in obvious pain with a taped left knee, pulled away to earn their 20th FIVB Swatch World Tour gold medal match appearance.

The 11th-seeded U.S. team of Lauren Fendrick (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Brooke Hanson (Woodland Hills, Calif.) finished the tournament tied for fifth on Saturday after falling to Bawden and Palmer in consolation, 23-21, 18-21, 15-12 in 1 hour and 5 minutes.

Fendrick and Hanson opened play on Saturday with a 21-19, 21-15 victory in 37 minutes over Canada's 17th-seeded Heather Bansley and Elizabeth Maloney. Fendrick and Hanson will share a prize of $9,100 for their efforts.

Kessy and Ross now have a 7-1 series edge in matches against Cicolari and Menegatti, avenging their first loss to the Italians suffered in Klagenfurt, Austria in August.

Kessy and Ross have reached their 30th final four in 61 FIVB Swatch World Tour events as a team and Sunday will be their 19th appearance in a gold medal match where they have a 9-9 career record.

Kessy and Ross have won 26 medals in the five seasons they have played together. In the gold medal matchup, which will be a battle of two former Phuket champions, Xue and Zhang hold a 6-2 series edge over the Americans, although Kessy and Ross won their last meeting in two sets in June at the Beijing Grand Slam.

The winning pair will share a $30,000 first prize while the silver-medal team will split $21,000.

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