RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — April Ross was so excited to finish the preliminary round of the Olympic beach volleyball tournament unbeaten that she took a victory lap around the Copacabana court, slapping hands with fans as she ran.
Her partner, Kerri Walsh Jennings, spun around in circles as she jumped in the sand.
“It’s the Olympics. We’ve got to celebrate everything,” Walsh Jennings said after the Americans beat Switzerland 21-13, 22-24, 15-12 on Wednesday. “That was a really hard-fought match. It deserved a victory lap.”
Walsh Jennings won three Olympic gold medals playing with Misty May-Treanor, sweeping through Athens or Beijing without losing a set. They lost one set in London on their way to a third straight championship — beating Ross and Jennifer Kessy in the final.
Switzerland’s Anouk Verge-Depre was well aware of the record.
“It’s only the second set she’s lost in the Olympics,” she said with a wide smile. “I’m proud of that.”
The Swiss survived a scare when Isabelle Forrer needed a medical timeout in the third set when she crashed to the sand on the point that gave the U.S. a 10-9 lead. She stood up, holding her head in both hands before walking over to her bench and lying on the sand while the Swiss staff looked her over.
With a few minutes left in the five-minute timeout, the other three players returned to the sand to warm up. Forrer came back out to a huge cheer from the crowd and a hug from Verge-Depre. Forrer then proceeded to deliver the winning hit on the first point.
“Those are great girls,” Walsh Jennings said. “It’s a hazard of the job. I was just feeling for her.”
Forrer did not meet with reporters after the match. Verge-Depre said it was a neck problem, and not a possible concussion.
“I think she felt a little dizzy,” Verge-Depre said.
The Swiss still have at least one more match to play, but aren’t sure if they will advance to the round-of-16 or play in the “lucky loser” round.
Not so lucky were American men Casey Patterson and Jake Gibb, who lost to Spain earlier Wednesday and finished 1-2. They are done for the Olympics, finishing last in their pool because of a tiebreaker.
The U.S. pair would have advanced if they had scored a handful more points — about one per set over three matches at the Copacabana venue.
The first tiebreaker is point ratio. The Americans gave up 126 points and scored 125. The Austrians scored 145 and allowed 140.
It’s the first U.S men’s team to fail to advance out of pool play since the 2004 Games in Athens.