FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Cincinnati Open | 17 - 21 May 2016


Press release

Walsh Jennings' play speaks to recovery

Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings (left) and April Ross speak to the media after a FIVB World Tour event in Vitoria, Brazil.

Huntington Beach, Calif., USA, March 8, 2016 - It wasn’t too long ago that Kerri Walsh Jennings didn’t mind answering questions about her surgically repaired shoulder, if only to assure they world that yes, all is well.

But after a couple of months of displaying how far she has come with that dangerous right-arm swing, Walsh Jennings would rather simply let her play speak for her recovery.

The message was loud and clear Sunday in Southern California, when Walsh Jennings and April Ross continued their domination of the Association of Volleyball Professionals tour with a 21-13, 21-16 win over Angela Bensend and Geena Urango that enabled them to capture the AVP Huntington Beach Open.

Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson, playing before their hometown crowd just steps from the court they practice on almost daily, captured their second Huntington Beach title with a 21-19, 23-21 victory over brothers Trevor and Taylor Crabb.

It was the 46th consecutive victory for Walsh Jennings and Ross on the AVP tour and they have won 10 of the 11 tournaments they’ve entered on the circuit. Together, they are 54-1 on the domestic tour and 49 of those victories have been sweeps.

Now they head back to the FIVB World Tour, where they need to pick up some steam - and qualifying points - as they try to earn their way to the Rio 2016 Olympic Gamess. Walsh Jennings is trying for her fourth consecutive gold medal and Ross is trying to turn the silver she won in London 2012 into gold this time around.

“I’m done talking about my shoulder,” Walsh Jennings said. “Let’s talk about us as a team and our mission. Physically we feel great and we’re both working every single day to stay strong and get stronger along the journey to Rio. I’m glad that storyline has passed.”

Walsh Jennings and Ross twice had to beat Urango and Bensend, who have now finished second in the first two AVP events of 2016. But Urango and Bensend, both 26, had no answers for the all-around excellence of Walsh Jennings and Ross.

“I feel like our confidence is growing each tournament,” Ross said. “We have to battle and have to overcome things in positions where we have to play well to win. Every time we succeed at overcoming all that, we get better and we get more confident.”

Walsh Jennings and Ross will resume their chase at the FIVB Cincinnati Open later this month. That appearance will give them the 12 tournament participations they need in order to count up their qualifying points. They will also play in the Moscow Grand Slam and the Hamburg Major, the final two events in which competitors can build up points.

“It’s just stepping stones,” Walsh Jennings said. “I think the pressure of qualifying is done. We’re going to kick butt in Cincy and our goal is to win those Grand Slams and get a great seed in Rio. I don’t care where we’re seeded. The journey to the Olympics is so important to success in the Olympics. The more you’re challenged, the more you’re faced with, overcoming adversity serves such a great purpose.”

Gibb, 40, and Patterson, 36, are locked in their own race to qualify for the Olympics but they had to work hard to defeat Trevor, 26, and Taylor, 24, who reached their first AVP final after a semifinal win over top-seeded John Mayer and Ryan Doherty.

“They have a long, long career ahead of themselves,” Gibb said of the Hawaii natives who played their college volleyball at nearby Long Beach State. “Those two are just really good and getting better. We have to keep them down as long as we can, because they’re getting better and better because they’re coming hot.

“You could hear some of the other (young) guys cheering the Crabbs on in the sense of ‘Let’s push these guys out.’ That’s the crazy thing about these tournaments is we have to keep proving ourselves. You think they care that I’ve been to two Olympics? They didn’t. It doesn’t matter to them.”

Now Gibb and Patterson also resume their chase to reach Rio. They’re locked in a three-way battle with two other American teams, Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena plus John Hyden and Tri Bourne. Gibb and Patterson hold a slight edge over Dalhausser and Lucena, with Hyden and Bourne closing in after their third-place finish over the weekend in the FIVB Sochi Open.

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