Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross are now 0-3 against Rio Olympic favorites Larissa and Talita of Brazil. Sunday’s defeat had to be the most stinging.
Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic champion, and Ross, an Olympic silver medalist, were swept 22-20, 21-19 in the Vitoria Open final in Brazil.
“The more we play them, the better we are going to be,” Walsh Jennings said in a press release. “They have to play amazing to beat us, and we need to break their runs and we’re very capable of doing that.”
Walsh Jennings and Ross squandered a 16-11 first-set lead and two set points in the opener.
The Vitoria final marked the first time Walsh Jennings and Ross were in top form in a match against Larissa and Talita.
They played a one-set exhibition Feb. 27, 2015 in Rio, in the Brazilian summer, when Walsh Jennings and Ross were still in preseason shape. Larissa and Talita won 26-24.
They later met in the World Series of Beach Volleyball final Aug. 23, when Walsh Jennings essentially played with one arm ahead of season-ending right shoulder surgery. The Brazilians won that match 21-18, 21-16 in Long Beach, Calif.
Larissa and Talita, seeking to become Brazil’s first Olympic women’s beach volleyball champions in 20 years, have won 12 of their 19 international tournaments since pairing in July 2014.
“I think we can play better,” Talita said Sunday.
Walsh Jennings and Ross have one international tournament title since July 2014.