(L-R) Kerri Walsh Jennings watches the ball with teammate Brooke Sweat at the FIVB World Tour in Chetumal, Mexico.
Kerri Walsh Jennings’ new partnership with Brooke Sweat produced its first medal Sunday.
Walsh Jennings, a five-time Olympian and three-time gold medalist, teamed up with Sweat to win the bronze medal in an FIVB World Tour 3-star tournament in Chetumal, Mexico. They defeated twin sisters Megan and Nicole McNamara of Canada 16-21, 21-8, 15-10.
The medal was the first on the World Tour for Walsh Jennings and Sweat since forming their new team in early October, and it scored the duo Olympic rankings points toward the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Walsh Jennings, 40, is hoping to play in her sixth Olympic Games in Tokyo and go after her fifth medal. Sweat, 32, made her Olympic debut in 2016 in Rio with former partner Lauren Fendrick.
Walsh Jennings made her Olympic debut as an indoor player in 2000 before partnering with Misty May-Treanor to dominate the beach, winning Olympic gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012. With May-Treanor retired, Walsh Jennings partnered with April Ross to win a bronze medal in 2016 in Rio.
Seeded second in this week’s tournament, Walsh Jennings and Sweat were coming off a tie for 17th place in last week’s Las Vegas Open.
The McNamara twins, who play collegiately at UCLA, started out Sunday’s match strong, winning the first set by a 21-16 score. But Walsh Jennings and Sweat answered with a dominant 21-8 win in the second set. Then they pulled ahead quickly and won the third set 15-10.
Walsh Jennings and Sweat reached the medal round by defeating Brazil’s Maria Clara Salgado Solberg and Elize Secomandi Maia in three sets. However, a loss to top-seeded Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson, of Canada, in the semifinals sent Walsh Jennings and Sweat to the bronze-medal match.
The American team of Caitlin Ledoux and Geena Urango met Bansley and Wilkerson in the gold-medal match.Bansley and Wilkerson beat the American team of Caitlin Ledoux and Geena Urang 21-12, 21-13 in the gold-medal match.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is sports editor of the Cape Cod Times and a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.</