It seems as if every time Kerri Walsh Jennings steps on a volleyball court, some sort of history is going to be made.
She did it on Sunday on the hallowed sands of Manhattan Beach. And this time, April Ross could join her.
Walsh Jennings and Ross roared back from a first-game loss for the second time on the day and held a commanding lead in the AVP Manhattan Beach Open final when the match was halted after Brooke Sweat suffered back spasms in the third game.
Officially, it was a 19-21, 21-13, 9-0 (retired) victory for Walsh Jennings and Ross over Sweat and Lauren Fendrick. Just as officially, it gave Walsh Jennings her record-setting seventh Manhattan Open victory and the first for Ross.
“It’s amazing,” Walsh Jennings said of her 121st career victory. “It just feels so good to win in general. To win the Manhattan Open is always something very, very special. This is meaningful because it’s a huge win with April. We’re both chasing dreams, we both want to do amazing things and we’re doing it together. It feels so right and I’m really proud of us.”
Ross, who hooked up with the sport’s all-time winningest player a year ago, didn’t even want to think about the possibility, even if the duo has dominated the AVP tour this year and is the leading team internationally.
“I never really let myself believe it was actually going to happen because I wanted it so bad,” Ross said. “It was kind of weird how it happened, but I think we played really well this whole tournament and we battled. Even in that final until Brooke got hurt, we battled and I think we were going to take it.
“I’m humbled by the fact that I’m out there with Kerri and I’m going to be on the pier till the world ends.”
That’s how the week started for Walsh Jennings, who saw her sixth plaque cemented into the pier on Thursday at the same time her husband, Casey Jennings, also celebrated winning the 2013 title.
To win in 2014, they would need to defeat Fendrick and Sweat in a fourth consecutive AVP final and it was hardly a sure thing when Sweat’s ace bounced between Ross and Walsh Jennings to give Fendrick and Sweat a 21-19 first-game win.
Walsh Jennings and Ross then fell behind 4-1 to start the second game before things really began to click.
They ripped off a 16-4 run and took the second game 21-13. Sweat, who had experienced back pain during last week’s final in Salt Lake City, finally had to give in after her team fell behind 9-0 in the third.
“I’ll be OK,” Sweat said. “It started last week in Salt Lake City. I thought I could play through it.