Three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings overcame a shoulder injury, with major credit to silver medalist partner April Ross, to reach Sunday’s final at the World Series of Beach Volleyball.
The Americans beat Germans Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst 21-19, 21-17 in the semifinals Saturday in Long Beach, Calif.
Walsh Jennings is playing at the biggest annual beach volleyball tournament in the U.S. for her first competition since July 10, when she dislocated her right shoulder during a match for the second time in two months.
“We’re trying to make it look easy, but it’s a big issue,” Walsh Jennings said on NBC of her shoulder, which was covered in black tape but didn’t cause her any pain Saturday.
Walsh Jennings has served underhanded and hit with her left hand this week. She and Ross are trying to repeat as champions in Long Beach and make up ground in Olympic qualifying, which will run through June 12.
Walsh Jennings and Ross made their first FIVB World Tour final since they won in Long Beach last year. They’ll play Brazilians Larissa and Talita in the final. Larissa and Talita have been the most successful pair on the FIVB World Tour over the last two seasons.
In the men’s final, also Sunday, 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and new partner Nick Lucena will play Brazilian World champions Alison and Bruno.