Sports

Two gold medals and a wild card for Stanford athletes

Stanford grad Kerri Walsh Jennings is one of the most decorated women's volleyball players in the world. Incoming Cardinal freshman Olivia Baker is just beginning to make her mark in track and field.

They both shared something in common on Sunday: each was part of a team that won a gold medal.

Stanford grad Nicole Gibbs lost in her tennis championship match in Lexington but still walked away with something special -- a wild-card berth into the main draw of the US Open.

Walsh Jennings and teammate April Ross beat Brazil's Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas, 21-17, 21-17, to win the women's gold-medal match at the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a $1,000,000 FIVB Grand Slam event held in Long Beach.

Baker ran the second leg of the women's 1,600 relay for Team USA, which secured the gold medal on the final day of the IAAF World Junior Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Incoming Stanford freshmen Elise Cranny and Anna Laman raced in the final of the women's 1,500. Cranny was fourth in 4:12.82 and Laman, who represented Australia, was 12th in 4:18.70.

Gibbs lost to fellow American Madison Brengle, 6-3, 6-4, in the title match of the Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships. Gibbs clinched the wild card when Brengle beat Melanie Oudin in Saturday's semifinal round.

In Long Beach, the score was tied five times in the first set, the last at 6-6, and with the score 8-7, the USA recorded five of the next six points to take a 13-8 lead.

In the deciding set, Ross and Walsh Jennings scored the first two points before Brazil tied the match at 8. Team USA eventually built a five-point margin at 19-14. After Brazil saved one set and match point, USA's Ross ended the set and match with another voracious kill down the middle.

Walsh Jennings recorded a game-high 21 kills, one block and eight digs with her only hitting error on the first match point attempt as the American duo won their sixth gold medal in 11 FIVB World Tour events.

In Lexington, Gibbs didn't seem as charged as Brengle as she made more errors and looked more leg weary . Still, the 21-year-old from California rallied in the second set to get ahead 4-2, but Brengle did not back down, coming back stronger.

"I didn't have a choice," said Brengle. "She was playing too well."

Gibbs said Brengle played well to win, though the past few weeks have somewhat wearing on her.

"I have had a long couple weeks, so I didn't show up with quite the same precision I've shown in some of my other matches," she said. "Madison played really well, fought hard and got the big points. I'm looking for a better match-up next time."

Gibbs said an earlier issue with her hip did not come into play.

" It had nothing to do with the outcome; I got outplayed," she said. "Maybe I was a step slow but that happens at the end of the week, and she had to deal with it as much as I do."

Despite Brengle's win this weekend, Gibbs received the wild card. Gibbs had the lead coming into the week, having won the previous week in Carson.

"It is in the back of your mind throughout these tournaments," Gibbs said. "You come out taking it one match at a time. After I lost second round at Sacramento, I thought I had virtually no chance at the wild card. So I came out swinging last week at Carson, and then I'm in the lead coming into this week. I just wanted to come through with a solid performance and give myself the best chance of achieving that opportunity."

In Eugene, Baker's effort helped Team USA record a combined 21 pieces of hardware in the championships.

The U.S gold-medal tally led all countries with 11, dominating the team scoring with 206 points. Kenya was the next closest with 82.

In the women's relay, Shamier Little handed off with a small margin over Nigeria and Germany. Baker, who won the bronze medal in the 400 earlier in the week, finished strong to extend the American's lead at the second handoff.

Shakima Wimbley kept the lead on leg three, and individual 400 champion Kendall Baisden held on to grab gold for Team USA in 3:30.42, the fastest junior time in the world this year and the team's earned seventh straight World Junior title.

The Canadian women's 4x400, with Menlo School grad Maddy Price anchoring in a lifetime best of 51.7, finished fourth with a national junior record of 3:33.17. Price nearly caught Germany's anchor, who held on for the bronze medal in 3:33.02.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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