A hard loss forced Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross out of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships before the quarterfinals, matching Walsh Jenning’s earliest exit from a Worlds or Olympics since 2001.
Walsh Jennings and Ross were undefeated in pool play and had a historic win over Paraguay on Wednesday. Walsh Jennings set personal records for Olympic or Worlds play for fewest points allowed in a match (16) and largest margin of victory in a set (15), according to BVBinfo.com.
But they were far less dominant when faced with China’s Wang Fan and Yue Yuan in the round of 16. The Americans lost two out of three tight matches: 21-19, 17-21 and 15-13.
In a FIVB interview after the loss, Walsh Jennings said, “I think serving was the difference. They got way more aces than we did. We missed too many and served a little more tentatively because of it.”
Walsh Jennings won gold at the 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics with former partner Misty May-Treanor. Now just 400 days out from the start of the Rio Olympics, Walsh Jennings will have a uphill battle in claiming a fourth gold in 2016. Only two athletes, Al Oerter and Carl Lewis, have won gold in the same event at four consecutive Olympics.
Four other U.S. teams advanced to the quarterfinals: Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat, Jacob Gibb and Casey Patterson, Nick Lucena and Theo Brunner, and John Hyden and Tri Bourne.