Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross historically dominant at World Championships

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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 MayerJohn Hyden and Tri BourneNick Lucena and Theo Brunner and Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson were to play round of 32 matches later Wednesday.

World Beach Volleyball Championships preview

Noah Lyles clips Trayvon Bromell in personal best at New Balance Indoor Grand Prix

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Noah Lyles got his 2023 off to a personal-best start, beating Trayvon Bromell in a photo finish in the 60m at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on Boston on Saturday.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, ran 6.51 seconds. Bromell, the world 100m bronze medalist, also ran 6.51. Lyles prevailed by two thousandths of a second.

“I’ve been waiting on this for a long time,” Lyles, whose personal best was 6.55, told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “We’re not just coming for the 200m world record. We’re coming for all the world records.”

Lyles is running the 60m to better his start as he bids to add the 100m to his 200m slate come the outdoor season that starts in the spring.

Grant Holloway extended a near-nine-year, 50-plus-race win streak in the 60m hurdles, clocking 7.38 seconds, nine hundredths off his world record. Olympic teammate Daniel Roberts was second in 7.46. Trey Cunningham, who took silver behind Holloway in the 110m hurdles at last July’s world outdoor championships, was fifth in 7.67.

Aleia Hobbs won the women’s 60m in 7.02 seconds, one week after clocking a personal-best 6.98 to become the third-fastest American in history after Gail Devers and Marion Jones (both 6.95). Hobbs, 26, placed sixth in the 100m at last July’s world championships.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world 400m hurdles champion competing for the first time since August, and Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the world 200m champion, were ninth and 10th in the 60m heats, just missing the eight-woman final.

In the women’s pole vault, Bridget Williams, seventh at last year’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, upset the last two Olympic champions — American Katie Moon and Greek Katerina Stefanidi. Williams won with a 4.63-meter clearance (and then cleared 4.71 and a personal-best 4.77). Stefanidi missed three attempts at 4.63, while Moon went out at 4.55.

The indoor track and field season continues with the Millrose Games in New York City next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

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Birk Irving, last man on Olympic team, extends breakout season with Mammoth win

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One year ago, Birk Irving was the last man to make the four-man U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team. Since, he continued to climb the ranks in arguably the nation’s strongest discipline across skiing and snowboarding.

Irving earned his second World Cup win this season, taking the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, on Friday.

Irving posted a 94-point final run, edging Canadian Brendan Mackay by one point. David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion who won his fifth X Games Aspen title last Sunday, was third.

A tribute was held to 2015 World champion Kyle Smaine, a U.S. halfpipe skier who died in an avalanche in Japan last Sunday.

“We’re all skiing the best we have because we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts,” Irving said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “We’re skiing for him, and we know he’s looking down on us. We miss you Kyle. We love you. Thank you for keeping us safe in the pipe today.”

Irving also won the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Dec. 17. Plus, the 23-year-old from Colorado had his best career X Games Aspen finish last Sunday, taking second.

The next major event is the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state) in early March. Irving was third at the last worlds in 2021, then fifth at the Olympics last February.

The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.

Irving is younger than all of them and has beaten all of them at multiple competitions this season.

New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t competed since the Games after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

In snowboarding events at Mammoth, Americans Julia Marino and Lyon Farrell earned slopestyle wins by posting the top qualification scores. The finals were canceled due to wind.

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