Moscow Grand Slam

Sean Rosenthal, Phil Dalhausser

U.S. beach volleyball stars painfully exit in season’s first Grand Slam

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U.S. Olympic beach volleyball champions Kerri Walsh Jennings and Phil Dalhausser suffered injuries in the biggest tournament of the season to date last week, less than a month before the World Championships.

Walsh Jennings, a three-time gold medalist and 36-year-old mother of three, injured her right shoulder in pool play at the Moscow Grand Slam on Wednesday and flew home before the elimination rounds.

Her partner, 2012 Olympic silver medalist April Ross, said the pair hopes to return to competition at an FIVB World Tour event in Stavanger, Norway, next week, two weeks before Worlds in the Netherlands.

After the top U.S. pair’s exit, top Brazilian pair Larissa and Talita went on to take the title in Moscow while dropping one set in seven matches. Larissa and Talita and Walsh Jennings and Ross both won four FIVB World Tour events last season, twice as many as any other pair.

Larissa and Talita, who first partnered during the 2014 season, beat Walsh Jennings and Ross in their only meeting, a one-set exhibition in Rio de Janeiro in February.

On the men’s side, 2008 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Phil Dalhausser said he tore his left oblique a little bit during the first set of his last pool-play match in Moscow. Dalhausser said he probably made the injury worse by playing through it with partner and two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal and underwent an MRI, according to an FIVB press release.

Rosenthal said he would play with a different partner this week and next week in Europe, while Dalhausser, 35, said on Twitter he would go home for a few weeks.

Spain’s Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira were the surprise champions in Moscow, the first Spanish pair to prevail in an FIVB World Tour event since 2008. They lost in the round of 16 at the 2012 Olympics and the quarterfinals of the 2013 World Championships.

Also of note, Brazilian legends Ricardo and Emanuel were eliminated in the quarterfinals in Moscow. Emanuel, 42, and Ricardo, 40, earned medals at each of the last four Olympics, together or separately.

A nation may enter no more than two men’s and two women’s pairs in an Olympic beach volleyball tournament. Two other Brazilian pairs advanced further than Ricardo and Emanuel in Moscow, a tournament whose results play into Brazil’s Olympic qualification system.

The men’s elite international field is widespread. Pairs from 10 different nations won tournaments in 2014, and the first three winners of 2015 were from three different nations.

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