Walsh Jennings, Sweat finish fifth

Kerri Walsh Jennings, Brooke Sweat Take Fifth in Itapema, Gain in Points Race

Kerri Walsh Jennings-Brooke Sweat-p1440

Photo credit: FIVB

The first leg of a lengthy international swing for Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat, in Itapema, Brail, is finished. It wasn’t the podium finish of the three-star in Malaysia, where they claimed silver, but a fifth is still, in the long run, a win for the new partnership.

In a tournament that began with a country quota win over Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil, Walsh Jennings and Sweat didn’t drop a single set until the quarterfinals. They beat teams from the United States and Colombia. They beat teams from Russia and Canada. They beat another from Slovakia until, alas, it was those same Canadians in pool play, Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan, who took them down in the quarterfinals, 21-15, 12-21, 10-15.

The fifth makes for Walsh Jennings’ and Sweat’s sixth consecutive top-10 finish on the FIVB, consistency that has bumped them up to No. 3 in the Olympic race and No. 1 in the United States. Directly behind them are the victors in Itapema, April Ross and Alix Klineman, who have now won consecutive tournaments after a victory at the AVP’s season-opener in Huntington Beach.

Now it’s onto Jinjiang, China. Walsh Jennings and Sweat will, once again, find themselves in the qualifier. They’ve already made it through the country quota, which was played locally, prior to the trip to Brazil. They’ll be joined by fellow Americans Claes and Sponcil, Emily Day and Betsi Flint, and Sara Hughes and Summer Ross.

It will be another opportunity for a podium. Another opportunity to gain in the points race. Another opportunity to take another step towards Tokyo 2020.