FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Moscow Grand Slam 2016 | 24 - 29 May 2016

#MoscowGS


Press release

Ross & Walsh Jennings Rio ready with Moscow memories


Kerri Walsh Jennings (center) and April Ross (right) being interviewed by Sydney 2000 Olympic champion Dain Blanton after their gold medal win Saturday at the Cincinnati Open presented by AVP.

Moscow, Russia, May 22, 2016 - When Olympians April Ross and Walsh Jennings step onto the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre here Wednesday for their first pool play match in the US$800,000 Moscow Grand Slam, what memories will the Americans have of playing in the Russian capital after topping a FIVB World Tour podium Saturday in the United States?

The gold medal win Saturday over Xinyi Xia and Chen Xue (2-1, 20-22, 21-14, 18-16, 66 minutes) at the Cincinnati Open presented by the AVP will be memorable as Ross and Walsh Jennings have completed the requirement for the Rio 2016 Summer Games by playing in at least 12 FIVB World Tour events together during the Olympic qualifying period for Beach Volleyball since April 2015.

“To qualify on home soil warms my heart,” said Walsh Jennings, who is ticketed for her fourth Beach Volleyball Olympic Beach Volleyball competition after collecting gold medals with Misty May-Treanor at the Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Summer Games.


FRESH FEELINGS, MEMORABLE MOMENTS

With the “fresh” memory of a win in Cincinnati, now it is the recollection of a memorable June 2014 performance in Moscow when Ross and Walsh Jennings won seven-straight matches over a four-day period (12-15) to capture the gold medal with a three-set win over top-seeded Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima of Brazil?

“They came to win, they are a very good team and we were the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the tournament so I think we both wanted to be here,” said Ross after her team’s 2-1 (21-17, 22-24, 15-13) in 52 minutes over the top-seed Talita and Lima on June 15, 2014.  ““I loved how we pulled it out in the end.  We played as a team and it feels really good to win.”

Another Russian recall maybe from last May 27 when Walsh Jennings dislocated her right shoulder for the first-time last season in the Americans’ second-pool play match at the 2015 Moscow Grand Slam against Carolina Horta and Liliane Maestrini of Brazil.  Walsh Jennings could not continue as her team trailed 5-2 in the first set to the Brazilians and placed 17th in FIVB World Tour stop.

When asked in Cincinnati Saturday about having any anxiety heading to Moscow for her fifth appearance in a FIVB World Tour event in the Russian capital, Walsh Jennings said “No. No.  Don’t even finish that question.  It was such a fluke, it’s so far away, I can’t wait to go and compete!”

With the Moscow Grand Slam next on the FIVB World Tour starting Tuesday with qualifying at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre, the past year has been a memorable one for Ross and Walsh Jennings.


THE JOURNEY

“One of my biggest things is enjoying the journey,” said Ross in a May 6 article on the USA Today Sports web site.

Michelle R. Martinelli, the article’s author, wrote that Ross’s “journey into Olympic qualifying territory hasn’t been perfect.  After Walsh Jennings had surgery on her right shoulder in September, the pair didn’t train together until the third week of January.  While her partner recovered, Ross concentrated on herself, including taking nearly two months off from volleyball in the fall and solely training in the gym.  Waiting for her partner’s return, Ross said the hardest part was embracing the uncertainty of their situation, not knowing exactly how much harder they would have to work to get to the Olympics this time.”

Martinelli also wrote that “honesty has been key for the duo in climbing the rankings and handling Walsh Jennings’ recovery, and they’re mutually open with each other about any concerns.  So as Ross looks to claim her first Olympic gold, engaging with Walsh Jennings to improve their already-strong team chemistry and hitting the basics hard are at the top of her priorities. It’s what she says has been a change in philosophy over the years.”

Soon to celebrate her 34th birthday (June 20), Ross was quoted by Martinelli as saying “we do the best that we can with the situation we’re in.  And if you embrace everything you’re faced with, it’s just going to help you grow and it’s going to help you become better.”

A southern California resident, Ross also has Copacabana memories after winning the first FIVB World Tour Grand Slam earlier this season on the iconic beach where the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be played August 6-18.  “I love the conditions, I love the atmosphere, I love the location,” Ross said in the USA Today web site article.  “It’s definitely Brazilian, but it has a little bit of a southern California vibe.”

Quick links
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Moscow Grand Slam
Men - Entry List
Women - Entry List
Men - Event Schedule
Women - Event Schedule

FORMABLE FIELD

With memories aplenty for Ross and Walsh Jennings, the next stop in their “Road to Rio” will continue to be challenging as the stakes are higher this week in Moscow with a more formable field in the Grand Slam event led by the top-ranked 2016 Brazilian Beach Volleyball Olympic team of Talita/Larissa Franca and Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas.

With two FIVB World Tour events and the European continental championships left on the Copacabana qualifying schedule for the Rio Games, Talita/Larissa (6,940 points) and Agatha/Barbara (6,870 points) have posted the best provisional totals for their best 12 finishes on the international circuit since April 2015.

Germans Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst (6,000 points) are the top non-Brazilian pair on the Rio ranking register from the FIVB World Tour where the 15 foreign teams will earn berths for their country for the Copacabana quadrennial.  With 500 points for their gold medal finish in Cincinnati, Ross and Walsh Jennings (5,790) moved into second spot behind the Germans followed by Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan of Canada (5,630), Madelein Meppelink/Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands (5,620), Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth of Italy (5,180) and Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy of Australia (5,030).

After the Moscow Grand Slam, the European continental championships will be played June 1-5 in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland.  A team can use their best continental placement from either the 2015 or 2016 championships as one of their best 12 finishes.  Since Ludwig and Walkenhorst captured the 2015 European title, the Germans have already posted their best continental finish for Olympic inclusion on the Rio ranking list.


TENNIS STADIUM RECALL

The $800,000 Hamburg Major will be the final Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualifying event.  To be played June 7-12 at the Tennis Stadium Hamburg Rothenbaum as the FIVB World Tour visits the German city for the first-time, the venue could bring back recent memories for Ross and Walsh Jennings.

Those memories were established in Cincinnati last week where the Americans won their ninth FIVB World Tour gold medal together at the Lindner Family Tennis Center Saturday.

As noted on the "Psychology Today" website, "memory makes us.  If we couldn't recall the who, what, where, and when of our everyday lives, we would never be able to manage.  We mull over ideas in the present with our short-term (or working) memory, while we store past events and learned meanings in our long-term (episodic or semantic) memory”

So will it be Ross, Walsh Jennings, Talita, Larissa, Agatha, Barbara, Ludwig, Walkenhorst or any other player competing in the Grand Slam creating another “memorable moment in Moscow!”

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