The International Volleyball Hall of Fame inducts its 2022 class on Saturday. We have profiled all six inductees, wrapping up with this feature on Kerri Walsh Jennings. You can watch the ceremonies in Holyoke, Massachusetts, live at 7 p.m. Eastern. Get all the information at www.VolleyHall.org.

Where to even start with the impact that Kerri Walsh Jennings has had on volleyball? Medals, accolades, winning streaks, Walsh Jennings has them all.

“I haven’t allowed myself to think about the legacy I’ve been living because I’m stressing out about the speech I have to give,” Walsh Jennings said about how she feels about her induction. “It means everything. It means that all of the blood, sweat, tears and love that I’ve put into this game has made an impact.

“It means that I’ve met the most amazing human beings, who have elevated me, and who I’ve learned from, and who have made my world and myself so much richer because of it,” she continued. “This game has given me everything. It gave me my husband and three children. It’s such a beautiful gift in life to have dreams that mean something to you, that help you develop who you’re becoming. And volleyball has been that for me.”

Born in California into an active and athletic family, Walsh Jennings grew up playing sports with her siblings, following in the footsteps of both of her parents. She played indoor volleyball at Stanford, where she became only the second player in NCAA history to ever receive AVCA First Team All-America honors in four seasons.

Regarded as one of the best players in collegiate history, Walsh Jennings became the first player in Pac 10 history to record more than 1,500 kills, 1,200 digs and 500 blocks.

She joined the USA indoors national teams and competed for two years internationally, including a fourth-place finish at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

You would think that someone with all of those accolades at such a young age was always outgoing and confident. Not so, says Walsh Jennings.

“Before I started playing volleyball, I was almost a mute,” she said. “I was so quiet and so shy and I never spoke. When I found volleyball when I was 10, something opened up inside of me and I think I found who I was.”

Another transformation happened when in 2001, Walsh Jennings joined with 2016 International Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee Misty May-Treanor to play on the beach. They formed a partnership that turned into the greatest women’s beach volleyball pair ever. Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor finished their initial season with a No. 5 ranking in the world and reached the top spot in 2002.

Their dominance continued into 2003, where they won all eight tournaments they entered and held a then-record 90-match winning streak, which included the World Championships where they upset defending world champion Brazil in the final.

In their first Olympics together in Athens in 2004, Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor won gold without losing a set.

And that was just the beginning.

Over the next several years, the duo went on to win three straight FIVB World Championships in addition to two more Olympic gold medals, in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012. Incredibly, Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor lost just one set over the course of three Olympic Games.

But their success wasn’t just limited to the Olympics, as they won 112 consecutive beach matches and 19 straight tournaments starting in June 2007 and ending in 2009 when they finished second in an AVP event.

SANDCAST 3/25/2020
Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross, shown here at Rio 2016, look towards the Tokyo 2021 Olympics/FIVB photo

Following May-Treanor’s retirement, Walsh Jennings partnered with April Ross for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, where they won the bronze medal. This was her fourth Olympic medal, making her the most decorated volleyball player — male or female — in Olympic history.

Walsh-Jennings’ individual accolades are equally astounding. She was part of the AVP Team of the Year eight times, was named FIVB Best Blocker seven times, named the FIVB Best Hitter and Sportsperson five times each, and the FIVB Most Outstanding four times. She ended her career with the most women’s career tournament victories with 133.

“Volleyball has been my vehicle for personal transformation,” Walsh Jennings said. “The sport has given me everything, I am so grateful. It means everything to know who you want to be and what you’re aiming for. You’re not going to reach it unless you aim for it, and volleyball has given me the world.”

Previously: Italian great Samuele PapiBrazilian star Fernanda Venturini, Dutch icon Peter MurphyParavolley’s Pieter Joon, Brazil’s Bernardinho

p1440 Pro Challenge 11/6/2019Kerri Walsh Jennings
Kerri Walsh Jennings passes a seam serve at the 2019 World Championships in Hamburg/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

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