COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 28, 2012) – The U.S. women’s beach volleyball team of Jennifer Kessy and April Ross won their third Thailand Open title on Sunday in Bangsaen, the final event on the women’s 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour.
Kessy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.), seeded No. 2, beat Russia’s No. 3 Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova, 21-17 21-19 in 44 minutes in the first ever United States-Russia final in women’s FIVB World Tour history.
In the bronze medal match, the U.S. team of Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) and Lauren Fendrick (Carlsbad, Calif.), seeded No. 7, fell to Brazil’s No. 5 Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas de Freitas, 19-21 21-19 15-9 in 56 minutes.
Kessy and Ross played all six previous editions of the Thailand Open in Phuket, the first one in 2006 with different partners. They won gold in 2008 and 2009 and finished second last year.
Overall they have collected 10 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze medals in 71 events on the World Tour. The pair won bronze at the Grand Slam in Rome this year and silver at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“Winning silver at the Olympics was great, but we really wanted this medal,” Kessy told the FIVB. “We were desperate to win here. We won gold in every year we played together, but this year we left it 'til the very end.”
Ross added, “It was tough. We fought against the weather here and we reached the final the hard way, through the losers' bracket, but we did it.”
Ross dedicated her medal to her grandfather who passed away a couple of days ago.
The Russian team did not get a lot of chances against Kessy and Ross. They trailed the whole first set and had a small lead in the second set at 12-10; but gave that away quickly. Ukolova and Khomyakova managed to save one match point at 20-18; but Kessy finished the match with a cross-court spike.
The bronze medal match featured great rallies and excellent defense by both teams. Fendrick and Branagh came back from a four-point deficit to win the first set. The Brazilian team took a lead again in the second, but the Americans tied it at 16-16. Agatha and Seixas enforced a tiebreak in the end.
In the tie-breaker, the Brazilians took a lead from 3-3 and claimed their first medal on their second match point: 19-21 21-19 15-9.
Fendrick and Branagh, who teamed up for the first time in international competition, were left with fourth place. Branagh has won the event with Kerri Walsh in 2010 and finished second in 2007 (with Elaine Youngs) and 2008 (with Tyra Turner). Fendrick also finished fourth in Thailand in 2009 with Ashley Ivy.