RIO DE JANEIRO — Kerri Walsh Jennings won’t leave the Rio Olympics with a fourth straight gold medal, but she’ll go out a winner.
The 38-year-old U.S. Olympic legend and partner April Ross overcome a rough start to salvage their tournament with the bronze medal, after a 2-1 (17-21, 21-17, 15-9) win over Brazil’s Larissa and Talita on Wednesday night in Copacabana Beach.
The Team USA loss in the semifinals to Brazil’s Agatha and Barbara on Tuesday night was the first in Walsh Jennings’ storied Olympic career, which included gold medals in the last three Summer Games with former partner Misty May-Treanor. It also stopped Walsh’s incredible 26-match winning streak in the Olympics.
Larissa and Talita took the first set, 21-17, despite a late rally from Walsh Jennings and Ross that dwindled a five-point lead to three. Again, Walsh Jennings had some struggles when receiving serves. But mostly, it was the Americans scrambling around on defense that failed to produce many quality kills and any momentum.
The second set produced more confusion, no more so than at 11-8 when both Ross and Walsh Jennings tried to dig the same ball. But the Americans rallied with six straight points in the middle of the set, finding their confidence and taking the set 21-17 to even the match.
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The third set was an intense, evenly played battle, and Walsh Jennings closed out with her best set in two days – including back-to-back “monster blocks” that ended Brazil and gave the Americans the bronze.
So what does the future hold for Walsh Jennings? She has yet to say that Rio will be her last Olympics, but she has considered what life after volleyball will look like.
Will she come back to try for that fourth gold medal again?
“I know I can, I don’t know if I will,” she said after the semifinals.
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