Stanford grad Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross, the top-seeded duo, qualified for the single-elimination part of the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a US$1,000,000 FIVB Grand Slam, being held in Long Beach. The U.S. pair downed a team from Canada, 21-18, 21-15, on Thursday.
They were one of 13 women's teams from seven countries who won their first two of three pool play matches Wednesday.
"Every weekend there's another FIVB Grand Slam somewhere in the world," Walsh said. "Every weekend there's a championship, so if you lose, you feel it so heavily. I think the best way to learn and grow is to be thrown into the lions' den and that's definitely what we're doing. There's going to be glorious moments and there are going to be frustrating moments. We're finding our consistency."
Playing in just their 11th tournament as a team, with five gold medals and two fifth place finishes out of their first 10 events, Ross and Walsh have won 24 consecutive pool play matches.
"I'm happy for sure," Ross said. "One thing I learned from the last two tournaments. We watched some matches and sometimes we get frustrated when we're not scoring points."
Men and women's single-elimination play will begin on Friday with the quarterfinals for men also on Friday. Women's quarterfinals and men's and women's semifinals will be held on Saturday.
The medal matches closing the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a $1,000,000 FIVB Grand Slam will be held on Sunday.