As partners on the professional beach volleyball tours who won the silver medal at the London Olympics, they've been one of the most successful teams in the world. But they will be splitting up this weekend at the National Volleyball League event in Las Vegas so the ''Best of the Beach'' tournament can crown an individual champ.
''I like this format,'' Kessy said in a telephone interview this week. ''It's interesting: You're enemies all year, and you're competitors all year. And now it's a way to have fun with each other.
''I'm trying to bring the best out in my partner,'' she said. ''And then, the next hour, you play against them.''
Beach volleyball is traditionally a sport with two-person teams - intense and intimate partnerships that can, like marriages, stay together for decades or split up quickly. But in order to isolate the individual players' skills, the ''Best of the Beach'' tournament breaks the teams up and pairs everyone with everyone else.
Between matches, athletes have no more than a few minutes to discuss strategy and bump the ball around with someone they might be playing with for the first time.
''You realize it when you make a dig, or when something is out of the norm. I know where April is going to be in that position'' but the new partner might have different thoughts, Kessy said. ''Every time I do this, I realize how great April is. It brings the love back.''
For Ross, the possibility of playing against Kessy is uncomfortable as well as unusual.
''There is a chance we could be on opposing sides in the finals,'' she said. ''It's hard. I don't want her to lose; I hope she doesn't want me to lose.''
Also in the tournament are two-time Olympians Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb; 2008 gold medalist Phil Dalhausser is playing but his regular partner, Todd Rogers, is not. Nor are three-time gold medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor.
Dalhausser, who won the gold medal in Beijing but failed to make the medal round in London, said he is still disappointed in that finish but has tried to move on. Having an extra week without competition allowed him and his new wife to actually enjoy the Summer Games.
''There's no reason to dwell over it,'' he said. ''Losing early let me and my wife be fans of the Olympics. We got to do the tourist thing. We had like 10 days of checking events out and seeing the sites. I look at it like: There are positives.''
Dalhausser is still a big draw on the national and international volleyball tours - and, at 6-foot-9, it's hard for him to go unnoticed. He won the event in 2009; it was not held the last two years after the demise of the AVP domestic pro tour.
Being crowned ''Best of the Beach'' is a different kind of honor than winning a normal tournament - or even one as prestigious as the Olympics - because it's a rare individual accomplishment in a team sport.
''There is a little pride in that when it's just every man for himself,'' Dalhausser said. ''It's based totally on you, on how you play, and how you finish. There's definitely a little pride involved. I kind of like it like that.''
Dalhausser said he likes how the format forces two blockers or two defenders to figure out a way to play together - a mismatch that would never happen on the professional tours.
''And,'' he said, ''we're in Vegas, which, you know, is obviously a fun city.''
Kessy and Ross have had little time for fun since winning the silver medal at their first Olympics. People are recognizing them on the street more, and there are more obligations than when they were merely one of the top teams on the international beach volleyball tour.
Kessy said she's especially proud that many of the people who come up to her who had never followed beach volleyball before. Ross was surprised to attend a red carpet event at a movie premiere and find that many of the fans wanted to talk to her, instead of the film's stars.
''Having an Olympic medal attached to you, it feels a little bit different for sure,'' Ross said. ''People really want to meet you.''
This weekend, the fun continues. They might even learn something.
''You can use it to your advantage. You can learn some of their strengths,'' said Kessy, who's won the event twice. ''April and I always go into it and say, 'Don't give away all our secrets.'''