USA’s Walsh Jennings/Ross vs. Spain’s Lili/Elsa for women’s gold medal Sunday at $800,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam

Long Beach, California, USA, August 27, 2016 – Continuing to relish 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 triumphantly to a semifinal match win over Germany Saturday to advance to Sunday’s gold medal match 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 will now meet Spain’s seventh-seeded Olympians Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo in the gold medal match on Sunday afternoon.

The 2016 FIVB World Tour regular season is concluding in the United States with the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball being held through Sunday on a colorful purpose-built venue at Alamitos Beach adjacent to Marina Green Park on East Shoreline Drive. The bronze and gold medal matches and awarding ceremonies for each gender will be played Sunday.

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

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 a gold medal match pitting a pair of multiple Olympians, USA’s Walsh Jennings/Ross will be pitted against Spain’s Lili/Elsa.

This will be the fourth meeting between the two teams with the Americans having an unbeaten 3-0 record against the Spaniards including two this season. 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.

This is the 19th final four appearance for USA’s Walsh Jennings/Ross in 30 career FIVB World Tour events as a team. They have 10 gold medals, three silver medals, three silver medals and two fourth-place finishes. Individually, this is the 116th FIVB World Tour event for both Americans. Walsh Jennings has 54 FIVB gold medals and Ross has 20 career FIVB World Tour gold medals.

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

It will be an all-German battle for the bronze medal as Germany’s fifth-seeded Julia Sude/Chantal Laboreur will line up against Germany’s 13th-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilke Semmler

It will be the fifth meeting between the two teams with Holtwick/Semmler holding a 3-1 lead in their series history which has seen Holtwick/Semmler win the last three meetings after Sude/Laboureur won the first meeting between the two compatriot teams at the FIVB Moscow Grand Slam in 2015.

This is the seventh final four appearance for Germany’s Sude/Laboureur in 39 career FIVB World Tour events as a team. They have one gold medal, three silver medals and two four place finishes. Their gold medal came this season at the Swatch FIVB Porec Major in Croatia. Individually, this is the 64th career FIVB World Tour event for Laboureur and 99th for Sude.

For Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler, this is their 23rd final four in 116 career FIVB World Tour events as a team. They have two gold medals, five silver medals, nine bronze medals and five fourth place finishes. Individually, this is the 126th career FIVB World Tour event and 125th for Semmler.

In Saturday’s first semifinal, USA’s Walsh Jennings/Ross remained undefeated Germany’s Sude/Labourer with their fourth win this season against the young German duo.  USA won the match in straight sets, 21-17, 21-16 in 47 minutes.

American Kerri Walsh Jennings tries to block German Chantal Laboureur

Two of the wins were in medal matches just a week apart with USA winning in two sets for the gold medal at the the FIVB Fuzhou Open and the bronze medal a week earlier in April in two sets again at the FIVB Xiamen Open.

The first set started close, tied at each point up through eight, when USA went on a 5-1 run.  In the second set, Germany held an early lead at 7-5 when USA scored three straight points including two Ross ace serves. The Germans rallied to knot the score at 14-14 when USA closed out the match on a 7-2 run.

In the match, USA’s Walsh Jennings recorded 11 kills and two blocks while Ross contributed 14 kills, four ace serves and had 12 digs.

For Germany, Sude was credited with seven kills and two blocks while Laboureur came up with a game-high 17 kills along with 11 digs.

Walsh commented after the match, “It felt really good, it felt in sync. I think from the get-go we put pressure on them on our serve and it really played well to our defense and April covered every inch of sand out there and they never got a clean shot and that started getting bigger and bigger.”

“Let’s keep doing what we just did in the gold medal match. They’re both very good, they’re both very different. The Germans are very German and the Spaniards are pretty Spanish. We just need to take care of the ball and be ready to adapt and adjust. But live in our strengths, certainly with April serving and I’m due to stuff some balls, that’s my goal tomorrow, then pass some balls because both teams serve pretty well.”

April reflected nostalgically, saying “I have really good memories of last year and the year before and I love jump-serving at this tournament. The conditions are kind of perfect for it. It’s just fun throwing it up and going after it. We don’t live and die by my serves. If I feel like I need to take something off it to keep it in, then that’s what I’m going to do. Sometimes I get suckered in when I hear people cheering “Harder, harder” and I know I have to stay with what feels right for my serve.”

Spain’s seventh-seeded Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo saw their fighting spirit pull them through a nail-biting three-setter over Germany’s 13th-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilke Semmler. In a long, 55-minute match, Spain came from behind to defeat Germany’s Hotlwick/Semmler 22-24, 21-16 and 15-12. It was the tiebreaker in the series history with Spain’s Lili/Elsa assuming a 3-2 lead. The Spaniards have now won the last seven three-set matches they have played.

Liliana Fernanda of Spain digs

In the First set, Spain jumped out to a 6-1 lead and were ahead 18-15 when Germany went on a 9-4 run and had its first lead at 21-20 before the Germans won it in overtime, 24-22.

The resilient Spanish ladies were shaken, but not broken and mounted their exciting comeback.  In the second set they never trailed and ended the set on a 5-1 run. The third set was tied at each point through 11-11 and Spain ended it on a 5-1 which included two Lili blocks.

Celebrating the move to the gold medal match in Long Beach, Elsa said, “We worked very hard, didn’t quit and made some great plays at just the right time, especially in the second and third sets. We are very proud of ourselves. We got nervous in the first set and blew it, but calmed down and did what we had to do.”

On playing in the gold medal match against USA’s Walsh Jennings/Ross, Elsa said, “It is an honor to play on the FIVB World Tour and even greater honor to make it to the gold medal match.  And to play against a team like USA’s Kerri and April is an unbelievable opportunity and we look forward to it. We play point-by-point, we never give up and we keep fighting to the last point. That should make the match fun to be a part of as well as exciting to watch.”

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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