Kerri Walsh Jennings has played three full Olympic beach volleyball tournaments and is in her sixth World Championships, and never before has she been part of such a rout at a major competition.
The three-time Olympic champion and partner April Ross thumped Paraguay’s Gabriela Filippo and Michelle Valiente 21-6, 21-10 in the round of 32 at the Worlds in the Netherlands on Wednesday.
“We had never seen that team before,” Ross said in an FIVB interview. “We didn’t know, really, what to expect.”
Walsh Jennings, who played with Misty May-Treanor from 2001 through 2012, set personal records for Olympic or Worlds play for largest margin of victory in a set (15) and fewest points allowed in a match (16) and matched her mark for shortest match (29 minutes), according to BVBinfo.com.
Walsh Jennings and Ross are undefeated in four matches at Worlds and advanced to the round of 16 against China’s Wang Fan and Yue Yuan on Thursday. The Chinese pair swept Americans Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day in a later round of 32 match Wednesday.
If Kessy and Day had beaten Wang and Yue, it would have set up Kessy’s first international match against Walsh Jennings and Ross. Walsh Jennings first planted the seed to start playing with Ross immediately after the 2012 Olympic final, where Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor beat Kessy and Ross in May-Treanor’s last match before retiring.
Walsh Jennings and Ross’ toughest potential match at Worlds would be in the semifinals. They are in the same half of the bracket as Brazil’s best team — Larissa and Talita. That match would be Friday.
Walsh Jennings and Ross are playing together for the first time since Walsh Jennings, a 36-year-old mother of three, on May 27 dislocated a shoulder on which she previously had four surgeries. Walsh Jennings, who played Wednesday with her right shoulder heavily taped, won three straight World titles with May-Treanor in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
“We want this sucker so bad,” Walsh Jennings said.
Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat are the other U.S. pair that reached the round of 16.
U.S. men’s pairs Ryan Doherty and John Mayer, John Hyden and Tri Bourne, Nick Lucena and Theo Brunner and Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson were to play round of 32 matches later Wednesday.