Thursday night the Brazilian tandem of Alison and Bruno Schmidt will look to win gold, as they take on Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo in the gold medal match. Alison took silver four years ago with then-partner Emanuel Rego, and Bruno Schmidt has yet to win an Olympic medal. The same can be said for the Italians, who are guaranteed of winning their country’s first-ever beach volleyball Olympic medal.
WATCH LIVE: Men’s beach volleyball, bronze and gold medal matches — 9 p.m. Eastern
The bronze medal match between Russia’s Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Konstantin Semenov, and Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands. Like Nicolai and Lupo, neither of these nations has ever won a medal in men’s beach volleyball. Four years ago, the Dutch team of Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil lost in the bronze medal match, and no Russian team has managed to progress as far as Krasilnikov and Semenov have in Rio.
One night after Kerri Walsh Jennings suffered the first Olympic defeat of her career, she and April Ross made sure that they wouldn’t go home without medals.
Playing against Brazilians Larissa and Talita, the Americans bounced back after losing the first set to take the bronze medal match in three sets, 17-21, 21-17, 15-9. The win makes Walsh Jennings the oldest female Olympic medalist in the history of beach volleyball, giving her four Olympic medals and Ross (silver medalist in London) two.
WATCH: Walsh Jennings, Ross take bronze in beach volleyball
Walsh Jennings was better with her passing Wednesday night than she was in Tuesday’s semifinal loss to Agatha and Barbara, and she also tallied six successful blocks. As for Ross, she was responsible for 15 of the team’s 19 successful digs.
As for the gold medal match, Germany’s Laura Ludwing and Kira Walkenhorst became their nation’s first female gold medalists in beach volleyball with a straight sets victory over Brazil’s Agatha and Barbara. After taking the first set 21-18 the Germans got off to a hot start in the second, scoring six of the first seven points on their way to a 21-14 victory.
Seeded fourth in the tournament, the European champions defeated the world champions to take gold, and they dropped just one set the entire tournament.
Germany has won two Olympic gold medals in beach volleyball, with Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann winning the men’s competition in London four years ago.
After winning three straight Olympic gold medals, Kerri Walsh Jennings won’t have the opportunity to extend that streak to four.
Brazil’s tandem of Agatha and Barbara ended the streak, beating the tandem of Walsh Jennings and April Ross in straight sets, 22-20, 21-18 at Copacobana Beach. Prior to Tuesday night Walsh Jennings had a 26-0 record in Olympic beach volleyball matches, but contrary to the expectations that come with said experience it was she who struggled against the Brazilians. Passes were off, and kills that were converted on such a consistent basis were either off the mark or blocked by Agatha and Barbara.
Wong: Agatha and Barbara “took it to the Americans”
But even with the struggles of the Americans, Agatha and Barbara deserve credit for what happened. Their defensive ability combined with the skill of mixing things up offensively, going with power at some points and placement at others, made it tough for Walsh Jennings and Ross to establish any kind of momentum.
Next up for Agatha and Barbara will be Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, who eliminated Brazil’s Larissa and Talita in Tuesday’s other semifinal. Walsh Jennings and Ross can still win a medal, as they’ll face Larissa and Talita for the bronze medal Wednesday night.
The loss itself isn’t an upset, with Agatha and Barbara being the two-seed in the tournament and an accomplished duo in their own right. But with Walsh Jennings being undefeated in Olympic play going into the match and she and Ross playing good volleyball throughout their time in Rio, this was a result few expected.
In the men’s bracket, Brazil’s Alison and Bruno Schmidt will look to win gold when they take on Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo Thursday night. Nicolai and Lupo advanced to the gold medal match with a three-set win over Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Konstantin Semenov of Russia, 15-21, 21-16, 15-13.