Americans Jennifer Kessy and April Ross scored their first resounding win in the women's beach volleyball Round of 16. The two outscored Switzerland's Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr 21-15, 21-19, after struggling in their last match to secure Group D's top spot.
Overcoming Spain in Pool Play
The Spanish nearly overtook Kessy and Ross in the last round of pool play. The teams split the first two sets, sending the match into a 15 point tiebreaker. In a grueling set of volleys, Spain and USA traded point after point. The American's faced match point six times in the final set.
Kessy and Ross should have won the match more easily. The two suffered over 10 service errors during play. Those became 10 easy and unearned points for the Spaniards. Team USA finally earned that last precious point to win, but the winner was anyone's guess until then.
Winning Against Switzerland
One might think that similar mistakes would plague the Americans, as they advanced into Round of 16 play. The duo showed it is here to stay instead. They still struggled with service errors, but earned six serving aces. They out-served, out-spiked, and out-dug Switzerland at nearly every turn.
It takes mental toughness to come back from a bungled match like that against Spain. Kessy and Ross did just that at a time where the wins are starting to matter. The two will take their next Olympic foe in the quarterfinal rounds on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2012.
Kessy and Ross are Comeback Queens
The two are quite good at coming from behind to win. During the first tournament of the FIVB 2011 Tour, they lost their first match but went on to win the silver medal. Similarly, in a Shanghai tournament the same year, the duo turned a second-round loss into a silver medal.
It doesn't stop there. Kessy and Ross hold the world record as the lowest seeded team ever to win an FIVB tournament. In 2007, the two were the 29th seed in the Stavanger Grand Slam. They suffered two losses early but eventually took the tourney's gold medal.
Passed Over to Podium
Kessy and Ross are the only first-time Olympians on USA's beach volleyball squad. They barely missed a berth at the Beijing Games. Once again, the two recovered from a crushing loss to represent the United States in London.
Getting to the podium will be no easy task as the two progress through the rest of the elimination rounds. But, if they continue to win it will be the best comeback story from the London Games.
Kathryn Walsh played indoor volleyball in junior high and high school. Once in college on the California coast, she discovered beach volleyball. She has been an avid fan and occasional player since.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jennifer Kessy
- beach volleyball