“There’s no doubt about it, we are one of the top teams in the world and this is just part of the growth progress.”
That from an undiscouraged Kerri Walsh Jennings after she and her partner Brooke Sweat lost to fellow Americans April Ross and Alix Klineman 21-17, 21-13 in the quarterfinals of the FIVB four-star pro beach volleyball tournament in Gstaad, Switzerland.
Walsh Jennings and Sweat finished their run in Gstaad with a fifth-place finish, while third-seeded Ross and Klineman will take on Nina Betschart and Tanja Huberli of Switzerland in Sunday’s semifinals.
“It’s been a little bit of a slow start for us in Gstaad,” Klineman said after the quarterfinal match. “That’s a great team and we knew we’d have to keep raising the level for high-quality teams. Everybody’s been really tough this tournament. It’s been a grind for us but I’m proud of how hard we’re fighting and even when we don’t feel our best mentally and physically, we’re grinding away to win matches.”
“April and Alix served much tougher than we did, and they kept the pressure on us with their serving,” Walsh Jennings added. “They’re very big, a very good defensive team, and they serve so tough it gets us out of rhythm a bit. I think we handled it very well and I’m proud of Brooke and how she fought off so many gnarly serves. I’m not happy to lose, not at all, but I’m happy with our progress as a team.”
Top-seeded Betschart and Huberli advanced to the semifinals with a victory over No. 18-seeded Natalia Dubovcova and Andrea Strbova of Slovakia. On the opposite side of the bracket, Brazil’s Ana Patricia Silva and Rebecca Cavalcanti eliminated newly crowned world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes in the quarterfinals 21-14, 18-21, 15-9.
“It was a very tough match because Sarah and Melissa are in great form,” Ana Patricia said. “This is a very important finish for us already because of Olympic qualification and we’re very excited to be in the semi-finals.”
“My sideout wasn’t consistent enough,” Humana-Paredes said. “We were making too many errors on the sideout. We weren’t playing a lot of balls, we weren’t able to regroup and get on a roll there.”
In the semis, Ana Patricia and Rebecca, the No. 5 seed, will face fellow Brazilians Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado (No. 15), who came through the qualifier and defeated No. 9 Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink of the Netherlands in the quarters.
No. 1 seeded Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sorum defeated the Netherlands’ Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen 21-17, 21-15 to win in the men’s tournament in Gstaad for the second year in a row. The victory marks the young pair’s fifth gold medal of the season and eighth in the past two years, as well as their 101st victory on the FIVB tour.
“One hundred wins makes me feel old,” Anders said after winning the semifinal over Italians Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai. “But now we want to go for win 101. We were honored to win a golden cowbell last year and now we want another one.”
Brazil’s No. 6 seeds Evandro Goncalves and Bruno Oscar Schmidt claimed the bronze medal, defeating Lupo and Nicolai 16-21, 21-17, 15-12. Evandro and Bruno, who formed their partnership ahead of the 2019 season, have now finished on the podium in three tournaments this year.
“We can’t deny that we are not frustrated by not being in the final,” Bruno said. “We deserved that. I want to give all that I have learned to Evandro and we have one of the best spots, we are two of the best players. I’m working very hard to come back from injuries and everything. We will continue, we still have a long season.”