Americans Walsh Jennings and Ross Face Brazilians Today at World-Class Volleyball Tournament

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Photos by Stephanie Perez.

The Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball at Alamitos Beach has kicked off its third day of matches between Olympic-level athletes today.

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At the end of today, both the men’s and women’s fields will be reduced to 24 teams, with the top three teams in each of the four-team pools advancing to the single-elimination portion of the tournament on Friday.

Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross compose the top-seeded team set to face the 16th-seeded Brazilians Maria Antonelli and Lili at 5:00PM. While both teams won their matches on Wednesday, the winner of today’s match will sit atop Pool A.

On Wednesday in their opening match, Walsh Jennings and Ross defeated 17th-seeded Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes and Taylor Pischke, 21-16, 21-17 in 37 minutes. The American duo defeated the 32nd-seeded Brazilian team of Ana Patricia and Carol, 21-17, 21-19 in 34 minutes in their second match.

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Regarding the American team’s first practice since the Olympics on Tuesday, an introspective Walsh stated, “We were a little slow and our coach (Mario Sicoli) stopped it in the middle. He was like, ‘Snap into it, we’ve got a tournament to play.’ He kind of got us going and said we need to be here mind, body and soul and just realizing that and showing up with that intention was important.”

The Brazilians who lost to Walsh Jennings and Ross in the bronze medal match in Rio won both their matches in Pool B on Wednesday, but not before two former Southern California college stars could upset their confidence, if only for a moment. Pepperdine alumna Kelley Larsen and Loyola Marymount alumna Betsi Flint won the first set, 21-19, but Larissa and Talita came back for the final two, winning 21-14, 15-13 during the 42-minute match.

Larissa and Talita also defeated Chen Xue and Ningya Tang from China 21-13, 21-10 in 23 minutes, prior to their second match.

All 32 men’s teams will play their final two pool matches today.

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The top-seeded American Olympians Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, who finished fifth in Rio, will play Martins Plavins and Haralds Regza of Latvia, who are seeded 17th, this afternoon and the 16th-seeded team from Poland, Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz, at 9:00PM.

Dalhausser and Lucena defeated 32nd-seeded Romain Di Giatommaso and Maxime Thiercy of France, 21-10, 21-17 in 29 minutes during their only match of the day yesterday.

Dalhausser, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, shared Walsh Jennings’ sentiment that competing in a tournament right after the Olympics can be a little difficult.

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“There is a little hangover[...] and it’s tough to get motivated,” he said in a statement, while Lucena voiced he was glad to get their first match out of the way.

The fourth-seeded American Olympians Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson were defeated by the
29th-seeded Brazilian team, Thiago and George, 24-22, 21-17, in 41 minutes.

The tournament officially concludes Sunday, but not before an electronic dance music concert set to take place on Saturday, as well as a celebrity match on Sunday featuring the Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson and retired NFL receiving star Terrell Owens.

General admission is free. For more information, visit the Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball’s website here.  

City News Service contributed to this report.

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