Walsh Jennings’ blocking ignites American bronze win

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 17, 2016 - Three-time Olympic Beach Volleyball champion Kerri Walsh Jennings had to settle for a bronze medal on Copacabana here late Wednesday evening, but one rally in her three-set win with American partner April Ross will be remembered as the most remarkable in her summer Games career that has spanned five quadrennials.

Before recounting the rally that ignited the American win, the third-seeded Ross and Walsh Jennings rebounded from a disappointing semi-final performance 22 hours earlier Wednesday to score 2-1 (17-21, 21-17, 15-9) 54 minutes over top-seeded and heavily-favored Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil in the women’s bronze medal match at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

With the third and deciding set tied at 6-6 after a successful attack by Walsh Jennings, the 14th rally in the third set traveled over the net nine times.  Walsh Jennings had three blocks in the rally, including two against Talita.  In the end, a Walsh Jennings attack won the point to give the USA the lead for good as the North Americans scored on the next rally with Ross digging and attacking successfully to make it 8-6.

From that point on, Talita and Larissa scored only three more points with Ross and Walsh Jennings producing 10 scores on the next 15 serves in the set that featured six ties and three lead changes.

With the Americans starting slowly in the first set, Ross and Walsh Jennings awoke in the second set.  Trailing 13-10 with the Talita serving, Walsh Jennings produced seven of the next eight points in the match with six successful attacks and a block to give the Americans a 17-14 lead.  Talita and Larissa never got closer than two points to end the set 

With their second win in six international meetings with Talita and Larissa, Ross and Walsh Jennings will join Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst of Germany and Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas of Brazil on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games women’s Beach Volleyball podium.  The Germany vs. Brazil gold medal match will be played at mid-night.

Quick links - Beach volleyball:
Rio 2016 Olympic Games - Beach volleyball
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Rio 2016 Olympic Games - Beach volleyball - Teams - Men
Rio 2016 Olympic Games - Beach volleyball - Teams - Women
Rio 2016 Olympic Games - Beach volleyball - Media Guide
Rio 2016 Olympic Games - Beach volleyball history

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Kerri Walsh Jennings 

The fourth-seeded Ludwig and Walkenhorst advanced to the gold medal match Tuesday afternoon with a 2-0 (21-18, 21-12) win in 36 minutes over Talita and Larissa.  The second-seeded Agatha and Barbara defeated Ross and Walsh Jennings 2-0 (22-20, 21-18) in the mid-night semi-final match.

The successful podium finish for Ross and Walsh Jennings prevented a streak-ending effort for the United States men’s and women’s Beach Volleyball teams.  Like Brazil, the Americans have now medaled in every Olympic Beach Volleyball competition since the introduction of the sport into the Summer Games program in 1996 at Atlanta.

With 10 total Olympic Beach Volleyball medals, the American men medaled in 1996 (gold and silver), 2000 (gold) and 2008 (gold) quadrennials.  The USA women have placed on the Olympic podium in 2004 (gold and bronze), 2008 (gold), 2012 (gold and silver) and now 2016 (bronze).

Brazil has 13 Olympic with two silver medals guaranteed in 2016 in the men’s and women competition.  Brazilian men have “Summer” successes in 2000 (silver), 2004 (gold), 2008 (silver and bronze) and 2012 (silver).  The women from the South American country have placed on the Olympic podiums in 1996 (gold and silver), 2000 (silver and bronze), 2004 (silver) and 2012 (bronze).
The match started at 22.00 local time.

21.09 - Fifty-one minutes till the women's bronze begins and it is a clash of some of the most decorated players around. 

Kerri Walsh Jennings  is one of the most decorated players with Olympic gold from Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012. She also won three FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships to her name.

April Ross won silver at London 2012 alongside Jennifer Kessy, with whom she won a world title in 2009. 

Larissa Franca is a former world champion and also won bronze with Juliana Felisberta at London 2012. Last year she and Talita Antunes won the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.

21.25 -This match features all three of the Rio Olympians who have previously won an Olympic medal (Larissa, Ross and Walsh Jennings).

21.27 - Want to know about the match? Head over to our Match Centre to find out everything you need to know. 

22.30 - The last time these two met was at the Gstaad Major Series final when Larissa and Talita won 2-0.

22.32 - The crowd is filling up at Copacabana Beach Arena and a full moon is threatening to peek out from the clouds above.

22.37 - There's a familiar face in the crowd and someone who knows a thing or two about winning Olympic gold - Germany's London 2012 champion Jonas Reckermann.

22.38 - Want exclusive content, up to date news and behind the scenes footage? 

Then head to our Twitter feeds - FIVB in Rio and FIVB Beach Volleyball
Don't forget about our FIVB Facebook - which brings you all the colour from Rio 2016. 

21.41 - If you live in Copacabana you wouldn't have wanted to have planned an early night. The noise from the stadium is bellowing out with the DJ whipping the fans into a state of near hysteria. 

21.52 - The first ever Olympic bronze medal went to Australia's Kerri Pottharst and Natalie Cook in Atlanta 1996. They then won gold at Sydney 2000 and have been sharing their memories of that day, which you can read here.

21.55 - The teams are out, US duo first and now the Brazilians who receive a noisy reception. 

21.56 - First the national anthems and then we will be ready to roll. 21.58 - Here's the two chaps responsible for creating the atmosphere at Copacabana and what a great job they have been doing so far.

22.00 - Larissa serves first and the Brazilians win the first point...and the second with an ace. 

22.01 - An April Ross spike gets the US duo on the board. 

22.06 - First timeout and Larissa and Talita lead 11-10

22.14 - Just in case you were wondering what the stadium looked like from a worm's point of view.

22.15 - Brazilians lead 17-12 and Walsh Jennings/Ross call a team time-out.

22.16 - Seems to have done the trick as the Americans close the gap.

22.18 - Set point to Larissa/Talita

22.19 - Ross saves it with a powerful spike to save the first set point, but the Brazilians take a 1-0 lead with the second, 21-17 the score.

22.21 - April Ross serves to open the second set and then dinks home the first points. 

22.23 - With medals on the line there is interest galore from the world's media, including these guys and girls whose snaps will whizz around the world in the next few hours.

22.27 - 'Here come's the boom!!!!!!' bellows out after Talita smashes home another point.

22.29 - She then causes mayhem with a serve. 

22.29 - Technical timeout and Larissa/Talita lead 12-9 in the second set. 

22.35 - Three straight points for the US duo and they are in the lead 15-14. Larissa and Talita call for a time-out.

22.37 - Larissa/Talita stop a five-point run from Walsh Jennngs/Ross but they still lead 17-15.

22.39 - It has been a battle royale at the net between Talita/Walsh Jennings.

22.40 - Talita/Larissa not giving up, but Walsh Jennings/Ross lead 19-17 and call a time-out.

22.40 - Meanwhile Naughty By Nature's hi-hop classic "Hip Hop Hooray" rings out. Old school, great tune. 

22.41 - Set point Walsh Jennings/Ross and they take it 21-17 and we head to the tie-break. 

22.46 - Point for point so far, 4-4 at the moment.

22.50 - This match is like a pendulum, swinging one way then the other. Walsh Jennings/Ross lead 8-6.

22.51 - My word this sport puts you through the wringer at times. Brazil gamely trying to hold on, but the US pair now lead 11-8. Four more points and....

22.52 - Well that's how you respond, Talita with a huge spike, but Ross matches her a moment later. 

22.54 Walsh Jennings block and it is match point US pair at 14.9

22.55 - Walsh Jennings block and that is the bronze medal to Walsh Jennings/Ross. Walsh Jennings leaps in the air, Ross is down on the sand in joy. Both now enjoying a celebratory hug. 

22.56 - Walsh Jennings and Ross to the lead at 7-6 and didn't let go. 

22.56 - It means Walsh Jennings has three Olympic golds and one bronze. Ross one silver and one bronze. 

22.57 - Thanks for joining us here - we'll be back with live commentary of the gold medal match which starts at 23.59. 


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