Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross made a statement Sunday by taking their third consecutive gold medal in international beach volleyball competition, winning the Moscow Grand Slam.
The underlining and boldface on that statement comes from the fact that they defeated Brazil’s Larissa and Talita, currently ranked No. 1 in FIVB’s provisional Olympic rankings, and did so in two sets, 22-20 and 21-17. It was the first time in four tries that the Americans, now No. 3 in the Olympic qualification rankings, had come out on top over the Brazilian duo.
Walsh Jennings and Ross defeated three different Brazilian teams a total of four times on the way to the Moscow gold medal: Elize Maia and Duda twice, in pool play (2-1) and again in the quarterfinals (2-0); Juliana and Lima (2-0) in the semifinals and Larissa at Talita in the final.
The U.S. duo picks up its eighth medal in Olympic qualification. They mathematically met the Olympic qualification requirements during their first match last week in Cincinnati, having met the necessary 12 events as well as a top-15 placement in the provisional Olympic rankings and a place as one of the top two American teams. The gold is their third of 2016, having started the calendar year with a win March 13 at the grand slam event in Rio de Janeiro, then picking up another April 24 at the Fuzhou Open in China, followed by last week’s win in Cincinnati. They also have two silvers and two bronzes during the Olympic qualification cycle.
Walsh Jennings is in search of her fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in beach volleyball, having won the last three with former partner Misty May-Treanor. Ross and then-partner Jennifer Kessy took the silver behind Walsh Jennings/May-Treanor at the London 2012 Olympic Games.