April Ross attacks against Italy as partner Jennifer Kessy watches during their bronze medal match on June 17 in Rome
B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Phone: (719) 228-6800
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 17, 2012) – Riding the momentum of earning enough points for a second Olympic nomination, the U.S. men’s beach volleyball team of Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal won their first grand slam on Sunday at the smart Grand Slam Rome in Italy.
On Saturday, Gibb (Bountiful, Utah) and Rosenthal (Redondo Beach, Calif.), seeded No. 5, clinched enough FIVB qualifying points to secure nomination to the U.S. Olympic Team that will compete in London. The pair finished fifth at the 2008 Olympic Game in Beijing.
On Sunday, they defeated Brazil’s top-seeded Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti, 21-13, 21-12 in 36 minutes to win the gold medal.
In other medal matches on Sunday, the U.S. women’s team of Jennifer Kessy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) won the bronze medal while the U.S. men’s team of Matt Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Nick Lucena (Santa Barbara, Calif.) fell in their bronze medal match.
Gibb and Rosenthal won their second FIVB medal of the season after taking the silver at the Shanghai Grand Slam.
“I can’t believe it really,” Gibb said in an FIVB press release. “It was a big win for us here. They are the world champions and in my opinion the best in the world and we got lucky tonight.
“This is our first grand slam and it is something I haven’t done in 12 years of my career, so it is a very special moment.”
Key to the U.S. victory was Gibb’s ability to nullify the threat of Alison at the net. The 6-foot-7 player was unable to dominate his opponents in the same manner as he had earlier in the tournament.
Gibb’s work meant that Rosenthal was able to work hard in defense at the back of the court and he was rewarded for his efforts with the smart Player of the Tournament award.
“How do you deal with him?” Gibb continued. “He is the best blocker in the world and he we had to find a way around him tonight. He is a very special player.”
Fuerbringer and Lucena, seeded No. 12, who had been battling Gibb and Rosenthal for the second nomination to the U.S. Olympic Team, lost in Sunday’s bronze medal match to Switzerland’s No. 25 Sasha Heyer and Sebastian Chevalier, 23-21, 21-13 in 41 minutes.
In the women’s event in Rome, Kessy and Ross won their first FIVB medal of the season with a 21-17, 15-21, 15-13 victory in 59 minutes in the bronze medal match over fifth-seeded local favorites Marta Menegatti and Greta Cicolari of Italy.
The USA pair won the first set, but Menegatti and Cicolari fought back in the second before Kessy and Ross silenced the Foro Italico crowd with the victory.
Kessy and Ross’ most recent appearance on a World Tour podium came at the 2011 Thailand Open in Phuket.
“We are delighted with our bronze. It is our first medal since Thailand last year,” Kessy said. “Every time we play this Italian team it is 15-13 in the third.
“It is always a tough game against them and to beat them at home for the bronze is a big deal for us. They have played great all tournament and made it tough for us today.”
Complete information about the FIVB World Tour is available on the FIVB web site.