USA’s Walsh Jennings/Ross overcome Spain’s Lili/Elsa for gold medal at FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam

Long Beach, California, USA, August 28, 2016 – Rejoicing in the joy of playing in their home country and lapping up the affection poured on them by the cheering stadium capacity crowd, USA’s 2016 Olympic bronze medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings/April Ross marched masterfully to the gold medal match victory over Spain’s Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo Sunday at the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball featuring the $800,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam in Los Angeles, Calif.

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The top-seeded American duo won in two sets over Spain’s seventh-seeded Olympians Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo, 21-16, 21-16 in the 50-minute internationally-televised gold medal match.The 2016 FIVB World Tour regular season ended Sunday in the United States with the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball after six days on a colorful purpose-built venue at Alamitos Beach adjacent to Marina Green Park on East Shoreline Drive.

The gold medal teams at the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam will split $57,000 and 800 points, the silver $43,000 and 720 points, the bronze $32,000 and 640 points and fourth place $24,000 and 560 points.

In the gold medal match that pitted Olympians, USA’s Walsh Jennings/Ross stayed the course of their design to win in straight sets Spain’s ‘die-hared’ sisters Lili/Elsa who never say ‘quit’ during a match

The Americans remain unbeaten with a 4-0 record against the Spaniards including three this season. Prior to Sunday, USA’s Walsh Jennings/Ross defeated Spain’s Lili/Elsa in two sets in the semifinals of this year’s FIVB Cincinnati Open and the quarterfinals at this year’s Swatch FIVB Hamburg Major in Germany.

USA’s Walsh Jennings/Ross tandem has now won two of the last three gold medals at the ASICS World Series of Volleyball, sandwiched around the silver medal in 2015.

In the first set, Spain led early at 5-4 that would be their last lead of the match. USA scored 10 real points in the first set, including five aces (the first three of which were tricklers).

The second set was much closer and was tied nine times, the last at 11-11. Spain trailed 16-14, but USA ended the set and match on a 5-2 run.

This was the 19th final four appearance for USA’s Walsh Jennings/Ross in 30 career FIVB World Tour events as a team. They now have 11 gold medals, three silver medals, three silver medals and two fourth-place finishes. Individually, this was the 1116th FIVB World Tour event for both Americans. Walsh Jennings now has 55 FIVB gold medals and Ross has 21 career FIVB World Tour gold medals.

This was the 10th final four appearance for Spain’s Lili/Elsa in 98 career FIVB World Tour events as a team. They have now won five silver medals, two bronze medals and have three fourth place finishes. Individually, this was the 98th FIVB World Tour event for Lili and the 100th for Elsa.

Statistically speaking, USA’s Walsh Jennings record 14 kills, two blocks and two ace serves in the gold medal match. Her teammate Ross had 12 kills, four aces and three digs.

For Spain, Lili had seven kills and one block. Spain’s Elsa had 11 kills, eight digs and one ace serve.

Enjoying the adoration of a stadium packed with USA fans, USA’s Walsh Jennings/Ross were exceedingly excited about their performance this week, just over a week after winning the bronze medal in Brazil at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Fans cheer on Walsh Jennings and Ross during the women's final

Ross commented first in the mixed zone following the awarding ceremony, saying, “I feel like I’m living in the present for the last couple of years. I think that’s how you have to go about it. In sports anything can happen. There was sting in Rio but the way we rebounded is what I’ve remembered and that’s what sits with me. I only had good feelings coming home and coming into this event.”

“But that’s where we want to be, on top of the podium. There wasn’t sting for me when I got home so there was no erasing but it’s an amazing feeling being up there in front of our fans who picked us up when we were down. I’m glad that we could do that. It’s huge for us.”

Speaking about the deep sand at Alamitos Beach, Ross added, “I don’t mind playing in deep sand, we practice in Manhattan Beach every day and I love deep sand, it’s great on the body and I feel like we’re good in deep sand but I enjoy hard-packed sand too. I feel like I can really get up on my jump serve, I can get up on my attacking. I like the hard-packed and I might be the only player here who says that.”

Ross concludes, “I haven’t thought about winning the gold medal here yet but to come home at our homecoming it’s like a thank-you to everybody. We want to come home and play hard and win in front of (them). But it’s also like not vindication but proof that we’re here to win, that we are one of the best teams in the world.”

The ever eloquent five-time USA Olympian Walsh Jennings spoke freely after spending some time with fans on her way to the mixed zone sying, “We’re always shooting for the gold medal and we put ourselves in the position we want and it’s about executing when the time comes. We won ugly the first couple matches and this is the first time it felt kind of pretty.”

“Half of me is Ugh regarding the trickler aces, it hurts my heart that I’m doing that and I’m accepting these points but at the same time it happens to us all the time. It for sure helps. It gave us breathing room, then it kind of got close again and something like that happens so you have to take it when you get it.

Walsh Jennings and Ross on the Long Beach podium

Walsh Jennings concluded her post-match comments, say, “ was touching balls (on the block), but they were weird and they were hard to play but April played amazing defense so she compensated for lack of blocks but that made it much better.  When she’s digging balls she makes me bigger at the net and when I’m blocking balls it akes her bigger behind me. It’s always a collaboration out there.”

Before flying out of Los Angeles, Spain’s Elsa commented, “They had three aces and also a net touch that counts as an ace. They were pretty lucky in that sense and also a few balls that were very close to the line. But maybe there was some kind of energy here in the States for April and Kerri.
I think it was a close even if the numbers don’t say it. It was an interesting match, we could have done better probably but we are happy about our tournament and getting the silver medal. We played great, very consistent and we have to keep this going in Toronto at the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals.

In the all-German battle for the women’s bronze medal as Germany’s fifth-seeded Julia Sude/Chantal Laboreur defeated Germany’s 13th-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler in straight sets, 21-16, 21-17 in 38 minutes.

While the cornerstone of the beach volleyball celebration is the $800,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam (regular season finale of the 2016 FIVB World Tour), the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball encompasses a wide variety of additional elements . Also part of the beach festival has been live entertainment, a special celebrity center court match, an expansive vendor’s village, multiple open, junior and youth beach volleyball tournaments and the very special legends of the game tribute dinner all at the event venue. For complete details regarding the entire ASICS WSOBV lineup of events and activities including premium seating tickets, visit the event website at

While this is the fourth consecutive year that the FIVB World Tour has stopped in Long Beach, Calif., the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball featuring the $800,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam is the 22nd men’s event of the season and 19th women’s event on the 2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour that started with three events at the end of 2015.

Following the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, there are two more events scheduled on the 2016 FIVB World Tour calendar. First event scheduled is in the United States--the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball at the $800,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam (Aug. 23-28) and the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals (Sept. 13-18, Toronto, Canada). The Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals, with $100,000 going to each winning team, will feature the top eight point leaders in each gender from the current FIVB World Tour plus four wild card teams in each gender.

The ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball at the $800,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam in the United States is the 350th men’s tournament since the FIVB began play in 1987 and the 311th FIVB women’s tournament since their competition started in 1992.

FIVB 2016
Based in Lausanne, Switzerland as the international governing body for the Olympic sports of Beach Volleyball and Volleyball, the 2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball calendar features a purse of US$8.25 million with a season that extends from last October to this October, competing at 22 venues in 12 countries. The schedule includes four FIVB Grand Slams, four Swatch FIVB Major Series events, 13 FIVB Opens and the special Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals. The showcase event will be the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil (Aug. 6-18).

The 2015 portion of the 2016 FIVB World Tour calendar started in October in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and included two more open events prior to the remainder of the schedule resuming at the FIVB Kish Island Open in Iran in February.


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