April Ross and Whitney Pavlik defeated Kim Dicello and Emily Stockman 2-1 (14-21, 21-16, 15-11) to win the AVP Austin Open on Sunday. It was the first victory for Ross since splitting with 2016 Olympic bronze medal teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings in April.
“It’s been a rough couple of weeks partner-wise, but Whitney stepped in and did amazing,” said Ross, who served an ace on match point.
Ross had not won a tournament without Walsh Jennings since 2015, when she claimed the AVP Huntington Beach title with Lauren Fendrick.
Ross plans on playing with Fendrick, who partnered with Brooke Sweat at the Rio Olympics, for the rest of the AVP and international season, beginning at the FIVB World Tour event in Moscow in early June. Ross teamed with Pavlik in Austin because Fendrick was playing at the FIVB World Tour event in Rio, where she finished tied for 17th with Lane Carico. Longtime friends Ross and Pavlik placed third earlier this month at the Huntington Beach Open.
Ross told OlympicTalk that “the final nail in the coffin” for her partnership with Walsh Jennings was when Ross signed an exclusivity agreement with the AVP for domestic events leading up to the Tokyo Olympics, while Walsh Jennings decided not to. But Ross made it clear that the split was not a “negative thing,” and Walsh Jennings wrote that she has “so much love in my heart for April” in a Facebook post.
Walsh Jennings is expected to make her international debut with her new partner, who has not been announced, at the FIVB World Tour stop in Croatia the last week of June.
NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will air Austin Open coverage Sunday at 5 p.m. ET.
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