FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Rio Grand Slam 2016 | 8 - 13 mars 2016


Press release

Walsh Jennings: No ordinary comeback

American Olympic medallists Kerri Walsh (left) and April Ross win the Rio Grand Slam on Copacabana Sunday over a team from Poland.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 13, 2016 - That was no ordinary comeback from shoulder surgery.

Only a few months removed from an operation that cut short her 2015 season and threatened to end her career, three-time Olympic gold medallist Kerri Walsh Jennings returned to the sand and teamed with April Ross to capture the $800,000 Rio Grand Slam Sunday on Copacabana Beach.

Quick links
•    Rio Grand Slam website
•    Country quota results - Men
•    Country quota results - Women
•    Qualification - Men
•    Qualification - Women
•    Main draw - Men
•    Main draw - Women

After a gritty comeback in the semifinals Saturday, Walsh Jennings and Ross defeated Poland’s Kinga Kolsinska and Monika Brzostek 2-0 (21-15, 21-13) in only 31 minutes.

The bronze medal went to ever-improving Germans Britta Büthe and Karla Borger, who scored a 2-1 (21-18, 18-21, 15-10) win over Switzerland’s Anouk Vergé-Dépré and Isabelle Forrer. It was the highest Grand Slam finish for Büthe and Borger.

It was the first podium placement for Walsh Jennings since she and Ross picked up a silver medal last summer in the Long Beach Grand Slam. Following that event, in which she could barely swing her right arm, she played two more international events before shutting down for the season in September. 

That decision looked like it put a major crimp in the plans for the duo to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics. Walsh Jennings and Ross had been on a roll since creating their partnership, winning six of 20 tournaments on the FIVB World Tour. Instead, the pair is crediting their time apart for pulling their game together.

“When we started out it was almost beginner’s luck - two athletes, two individuals coming together just playing ugly and winning,” Walsh Jennings said. “We had to find us within that. When you start out so high, there’s always going to be a middle part. The middle part for me lasted a little bit too long but that’s because our standards are too high. 

“My injury was only a positive. It hurt my heart and the second time I got hurt especially was kind of scary because it was like where are we in this process after you work so hard? But it helped us. We needed something to help us understand each other and work out the core of each other and I feel like we got rid of the (questions) and found the core of the partnership.”

While Walsh was healing, Ross was back on the court with other partners but always mindful of what she wanted to improve upon when Walsh Jennings returned.

“I was just thinking of our system and the system we would run once Kerri was back and trying to work on my defense and still being a big presence with those other players,” Ross said. “Every time I got on the court I was thinking of how I could better us by being out there and competing. 

“I felt like I had a lot to work on and I needed to be out there working on all that stuff. And I do think it helps.”

On the same sand where the Olympic tournament will be played, Walsh Jennings and Ross went through the event undefeated to share the winner’s purse of $57,000. They also picked up 800 Olympic qualifying points, a huge score as they race to outpoint their American teammates in order to become one of the country’s two teams in Rio.

“We still need four more tournaments and we’re not going to let off the gas but to be here in Copacabana, to be playing on the same sand we’ll be playing on in the Olympics means a lot,” Ross said. “It was a stride for us.”

It was the first FIVB Grand Slam final for Kolosinska and Brzostek, whose finish moved them into the top 10 of the point leaders in the world rankings.

“We didn’t stress as it was (in the semifinals) so I think we played much better even with this result,” said Brzostek, who will share $43,000 with Kolosinska. “So we can be proud of ourselves so let’s hope we can do it again next week in Vitoria.

“The great service of Ross was the main reason we couldn’t receive the ball and score. That was the biggest issue in our game.”

But reaching the final was the first step in what the Poles agree is their main sticking point - self-confidence.

“It felt good. I hope we can do it every week when we play,” Brzostek said. “I hope we can improve ourselves even more. I think we are not in really good shape (mentally) right now so I hope it will get better and better.

“We need to believe in ourselves more because we have a little problem with that, but I hope this tournament and others will help us.”

Büthe and Borger, who captured the Lucerne Open a year ago, climbed the points ladder but want nothing to do with knowing their status. But they certainly like the results they’re growing accustomed to earning.

“We are not playing against the German teams, we are playing for ourselves against all the teams that are on the other side of the net,” Büthe said. “We’re not going to count, we’re just going to play our best beach volleyball and at the end we’re going to see where we are.”

Vergé-Dépré and Forrer continued to string together top-10 results, They have finished among the 10 best in seven of their last eight tournaments.

“We never came so far, this is the first semifinal for us,” Vergé-Dépré said. “It was really close to go for a medal, both in the semifinal and today.

“We made a big step with points. It really gets us closer to the qualification and I’m really happy about this, even though I’m a little tired.”

Download highresolution

| More

More press releases

03.08.2016 04:57:26
TALKIN’ STATS: Rio 2016 Olympic Games Beach Volleyball Preview

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 2, 2016 — Displaying a major presence and involvement for the next three weeks in Brazil, the Fédération Internatio... More...

30.07.2016 15:26:11
Stars of Rio: Alison Cerutti

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil July 30, 2016 – Reigning world champion Alison Cerutti is one of the most recognisable figures on the FIVB Beach Volleyball W... More...

28.07.2016 17:40:46
Twenty years later - Atlanta validation for Kiraly & Steffes

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 27, 2016 - Twenty years ago today on July 28 on a man-made "beach" south of the Georgia capital of Atlanta, Karch Kiraly a... More...

27.07.2016 20:11:23
Canadians first to try out Copacabana

27.07.2016 15:44:07
First-ever Olympic beach volleyball medal winners

26.07.2016 16:38:24
Copacabana welcomes newest attraction as Olympic beach volleyball venue opens

22.07.2016 12:17:22
Celebrate two decades of Olympic beach volleyball with two weeks until Rio 2016

12.07.2016 13:04:16
Canadian duos to play-off for place at Rio 2016

11.07.2016 10:07:55
Brink reviews the key battles for Rio 2016

08.07.2016 15:05:03
Rio 2016 Olympic beach volleyball Drawing of Lots Saturday in Gstaad

23.06.2016 17:18:18
Olympic Countdown: May-Treanor/Walsh win third Olympic gold

09.06.2016 16:56:25
Olympic countdown: USA claim double in Beijing

01.06.2016 10:10:57
Italy confirm Olympic beach teams

26.05.2016 17:22:57
Olympic Countdown: Athens the cradle of beach volleyball legend

13.05.2016 12:47:20
Agatha and Barbara trying to keep calm despite Olympic dreams

06.05.2016 23:23:41
Lucena forfeits early on at Huntingdon Beach

05.05.2016 12:42:58
Sweat going through the pain barrier for Rio 2016 place

04.05.2016 13:51:00
Pedro ready to make up for lost time at debut Olympics

03.05.2016 16:59:44
World champs Agatha and Barbara ready to live every minute of debut Olympics

03.05.2016 10:25:36
Ghanaian duo Ajanako and Sarpong dreaming of Rio sands

25.04.2016 09:15:52
Brazilian athletes enjoy Saquarema facilities

24.04.2016 22:18:30
Alison and Bruno claim Brazilian Tour event in Fortaleza

19.04.2016 16:45:55
Rwanda keep Olympic dream alive

14.04.2016 09:08:23
Olympic Countdown: Blanton and Fonoimoana spring Sydney surprise

14.04.2016 00:42:29
Excitement looms in Abuja as teams gather for women's Continental Cup finals

13.04.2016 15:23:32
Olympic dreams on the line on Nigerian sands

30.03.2016 15:21:49
Prudel aiming for second taste of Rio

17.03.2016 15:25:18
Olympic Games Countdown: Atlanta braves the new Olympic craze

15.03.2016 12:14:31
Rewatch: Rio Grand Slam Finals

13.03.2016 19:19:17
Walsh Jennings: No ordinary comeback

13.03.2016 18:57:39
And nine months later…

13.03.2016 00:21:58
Kantor and Losiak seek Copacabana crown

12.03.2016 23:30:13
Walsh Jennings and Ross reach unusual No. 101

12.03.2016 18:43:45
Brazil, Netherlands & Poland seeking men’s Rio Grand Slam gold

12.03.2016 16:58:59
Emotional freeze for Forrer/Vergé-Dépré on Copacabana Saturday morning

12.03.2016 11:13:17
Rio Grand Slam features statistics

12.03.2016 02:58:59
Austria, Brazil, France, Netherlands, Poland & USA seek men’s Copacabana medals

12.03.2016 00:34:47
Bumming out Rio

12.03.2016 00:16:24
Polish Pairs Partying

11.03.2016 22:28:55
From the brink of elimination to netting a quarterfinal berth

11.03.2016 18:41:33
Obrigado Emanuel!

11.03.2016 16:39:25
Upsets highlight women’s elimination first round

11.03.2016 05:09:21
Rio Grand Slam features statistics

11.03.2016 01:20:59
Seven countries net men’s Rio pool titles

11.03.2016 01:02:01
Hometown distractions

10.03.2016 21:40:27
Germans continue Copacabana charm

10.03.2016 17:36:27
Live Streams for Rio Grand Slam semifinals and finals

10.03.2016 15:10:09
Will this be Emanuel’s last match?

10.03.2016 12:16:06
German Glee on Copacabana

09.03.2016 22:36:45
Dalhausser and Lucena prevail in lull before the storm

09.03.2016 20:40:03
Carambula’s unique weapon

09.03.2016 15:58:47
Hermannova and Slukova continue winning run

09.03.2016 09:30:10
Copacabana welcomes Rio Grand Slam

08.03.2016 22:52:22
Rio anxiety for Nestarcova & Dubovcova

08.03.2016 22:16:45
Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin prove competitiveness on Copacabana

08.03.2016 21:32:02
Karagkouni and Arvaniti lead way to women's Rio Grand Slam Main Draw

08.03.2016 20:04:03
Firm hands of Sicoli helping Ross and Walsh towards Rio dream

08.03.2016 17:18:46
Phuket friendship produces coaching role

07.03.2016 21:34:41
Playing again on Copacabana

07.03.2016 17:27:04
Emanuel with the past, present and future Monday

07.03.2016 02:12:02
Common backgrounds on Copacabana

04.03.2016 19:24:53
Road to Rio - 15 Women’s Olympic Tickets

04.03.2016 04:36:25
FIVB World Tour on Copacabana Beach for $800,000 FIVB Rio Grand Slam

04.03.2016 01:17:00
Road to Rio - 15 Men’s Olympic Tickets

03.03.2016 12:06:50
Ross infused with energy

02.03.2016 23:59:57
"Lion King" characters spotted on Copacabana

02.03.2016 18:31:55
Emanuel’s start and finish on the FIVB World Tour

01.03.2016 21:04:37
Beach volleyball returns to its roots

01.03.2016 17:17:47
Walsh Jennings: "We need to do our jobs well"

29.02.2016 23:15:08
2016 FIVB World Tour update following FIVB Maceió Open in Brazil

27.01.2016 17:52:01
USA’s Ross/Walsh Jennings hit comeback trail for Olympics

22.01.2016 09:44:22
Top-ranked Australians look to kick-start Olympic campaign

18.01.2016 12:59:02
Talita: We are on track for the Olympics

15.01.2016 15:13:19
Ludwig/Walkenhorst settling in for Rio challenge

02.01.2016 12:00:44
2016 Preview: Beach volleyball at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

31.12.2015 17:15:07
Valjas aiming to follow in brother’s Olympic footsteps

11.11.2015 13:07:40
Beach volleyball prepares for bumper season after 2015/2016 calendar unveiled

26.08.2015 14:10:31
Bawden and Clancy dare to dream of Copacabana Beach

15.07.2015 15:17:43
Brazilian Road to Rio revealed

08.04.2015 12:33:44
Finnish pairs chasing Rio Olympic dream