In what may be a preview of the gold-medal match in women’s beach volleyball in Rio this summer, Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross fell to Brazil’s Larissa and Talita at the Vitoria Open final in Brazil to take the silver medal.
Walsh Jennings and Ross rolled into the medal match riding a 13-0 win streak, only to see it halted despite their effort. It marked the third time the American duo lost to the Brazilians in the last 13 months, but there was a silver lining to the silver-medal performance. It was their fourth medal in the 2016 Olympic qualifying season and their second in as many weeks since Walsh Jennings returned to competition after back surgery.
Walsh Jennings and Ross ran out to a 16-11 lead in the first game and controlled portions of the match before falling 22-20, 21-19, their best showing against the Brazilians, and it came on the opponent’s home turf. It should lead to an improvement of their world ranking of 15th entering the weekend.
Asked by the FIVB what the difference was in the match, three-time Olympic champion Walsh Jennings summed it up in one word: “Momentum.”
“Just a couple of plays here and there, and they made good plays,” she said. “We didn’t take advantage of a couple of things. It’s just the ABCs that fell apart a little bit. Mostly, we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we had.”