Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross did it again. Only two weeks after winning their first FIVB Grand Slam together they repeated the performance in Xiamen, China, to take the final grand slam title of the season. With the win, Walsh Jennings broke the all-time career wins record for a female beach volleyball player, a record previously held by her former partner Misty May-Treanor. Now with 113 total victories, Walsh Jennings has only Karch Kiraly’s record of 148 to try and top.
In Xiamen, Walsh Jennings and Ross met No. 1-seeded Brazilians Talita Antunes da Rocha and Taiana Lima in the final. The Americans won the first set 21-14 but faltered in the second, letting da Rocha and Lima take the game 21-17. Finally, in the third set, the Americans finished off their opponents 15-12 to win the $33,000 top prize.
The women’s bronze medal match featured two German teams with Sao Paulo silver medalists Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst getting the best of countrywomen Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler 21-15, 21-19. The win was Ludwig and Walkenhorst’s third straight grand slam podium finish, as they had collected silver in Moscow, Aug. 25.
Summer Ross and Emily Day also made the trip to China for the last FIVB Grand Slam of the year; however, the young duo had the misfortune to meet da Rocha and Lima in the third round and fell 21-13, 21-19. Lauren Fendrick and Brittany Hochevar were the only other American women’s team in the tournament, and after going 1-2 in pool play, they failed to break.
On the men’s side, no American teams mounted the podium. Casey Patterson and Jake Gibb got the closest with a fifth-place finish (after doing away with fellow Americans Theo Brunner and Todd Rogers in the first round), but they too met a tough Brazilian team, Alison Cerutti and Vitor Goncalves Felipe, in the third round and were unable to secure the victory that would have sent them to the semifinals.
Felipe and Cerutti went on to win the final over the Netherlands Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen 18-21, 21-15, 15-13. This Brazilian partnership had weathered only one tournament before Xiamen, the Moscow Grand Slam where they finished a disappointing 17th. For the past three years, Cerutti partnered with veteran Emanuel Rego, earning 22 podium finishes: eight gold (only one of which they won this year), eight silver, and six bronze.