World Series of Beach Volleyball

Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross win World Series of Beach Volleyball

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Rio bronze medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross bounced back from an Olympic upset to win the biggest annual tournament in the U.S. on Sunday.

Walsh Jennings and Ross captured the Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball title in Long Beach, Calif., for the second time in three years. They beat Spanish pair Liliana Fernández and Elsa Baquerizo 21-16, 21-16 in the final.

“We love those girls so much, they are dear friends of ours,” Walsh Jennings said. “We wanted to beat them down.”

Absent from Long Beach were Olympic gold medalists Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany and silver medalists Ágatha and Bárbara of Brazil.

Walsh Jennings and Ross, who lost to Ágatha and Bárbara in the Olympic semifinals, dropped a total of two sets in seven undefeated matches this past week.

They earned their fifth international title of the year after winning none in 2015, last season shortened by Walsh Jennings’ fifth right shoulder surgery.

In the men’s final, Brazil’s No. 2 pair, Pedro and Evandro, beat top U.S. pair Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena 19-21, 21-17, 15-9.

Olympic champions Alison and Bruno of Brazil did not compete in Long Beach.

The beach volleyball season continues with the FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto in two weeks.

MORE: Tough for Misty May-Treanor to watch Kerri Walsh Jennings in Rio

Walsh Jennings, Ross fall to Brazilians in World Series final

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Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross did well to make the Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball final, but their fortune ran out against the best team in the world over the last year.

Brazil’s Larissa and Talita swept the three-time Olympic champion Walsh Jennings and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Ross 21-18, 21-16 in Long Beach, Calif., on Sunday.

“Today was a lesson,” Walsh Jennings said on NBC. “We played the best team in the world.”

Walsh Jennings was playing on the FIVB World Tour for the first time since dislocating her right shoulder in a match for the second time in two months July 10. Walsh Jennings, who had four previous right shoulder surgeries, played in Long Beach with her right shoulder heavily taped, serving underhand and swinging often with her left arm.

She had modest expectations for her return event, saying that elimination round wins to make it to the final were icing on the cake.

Walsh Jennings said on Saturday that Ross was playing better than ever this week. They first paired together in 2013, after Misty May-Treanor‘s retirement.

Walsh Jennings and Ross made their first FIVB World Tour final since winning in Long Beach last season.

Larissa and Talita won for the eighth time in 13 FIVB events since they paired last year. Walsh Jennings and Ross and Larissa and Talita led the tour in event wins in 2014 with four each.

Walsh Jennings said she and Ross will play this week’s FIVB Grand Slam event in Poland and the Rio Open in Brazil the following week and then reassess. A fifth right shoulder surgery is possible.

Later, in the men’s final, 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and new partner Nick Lucena were beaten by Brazilian World champions Alison and Bruno 16-21, 22-20, 13-15.

Dalhausser, the 2014 FIVB Player of the Year, and Lucena were playing in their first FIVB tournament together since Dalhausser and two-time Olympian partner Sean Rosenthal split in July.

Alison and Bruno have won four straight FIVB World Tour events.

Dalhausser, Rosenthal explain what led to split

WATCH LIVE: World Series of Beach Volleyball finals — 2:30 p.m. ET

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It’s the U.S. versus Brazil in a showdown at the Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball finals, live on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings and silver medalist partner April Ross surprised themselves by reaching the final of the U.S.’ top annual beach volleyball tournament in Long Beach, Calif.

That’s because Walsh Jennings has served underhand this past week and hit with her left hand as she recovers from dislocating her right shoulder in a match for the second time in two months July 10. That shoulder, which has been operated on four times during her career, has been taped throughout the tournament.

Nevertheless, Walsh Jennings and Ross reached their first FIVB World Tour final since they won last year’s World Series of Beach Volleyball.

On Sunday, they’ll play Brazilians Larissa and Talita for the title. Larissa and Talita and Walsh Jennings and Ross were the best teams on tour last season, each winning four tournaments, but the pairs’ only head to head before Sunday was Feb. 27 in a one-set exhibition won by the Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro.

This matchup could determine the early favorite for Rio 2016 gold.

WATCH LIVE: World Series of Beach Volleyball finals — 2:30 p.m. ET

Later, in the men’s final, 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and new parter Nick Lucena will take on the World champions from Brazil, Alison and Bruno.

Dalhausser, the reigning FIVB Player of the Year, is playing his first FIVB World Tour event since splitting from two-time Olympian partner Sean Rosenthal in July.

Dalhausser, Rosenthal explain what led to split