Walsh-Jennings, Ross make AVP debut in Santa Barbara

Kerri Walsh Jennings - AVP Santa Barbara Open

Kerri Walsh Jennings (pictured) and April Ross won both their matches on Friday in Santa Barbara. (Presidio Sports Photo)

Bullets and butterflies. That sums up how the AVP debut went for new beach volleyball partners Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross at the?AVP Santa Barbara Open?on Friday?as the top seeds downed Andrea Peterson and Tanya White 21-11, 21-7 in their opening match.

Both players said they felt nervous but liked the result as they begin the process of learning to best play with each other.

“We both showed up and had butterflies in our tummies,” Walsh Jennings explained. “We were just really excited and nervous, and I think that’s a good thing. We went out there and played good volleyball but we have plenty to work on. It’s really exciting for both of us.

“It was a good first showing.”

The butterflies didn’t get in the way of the mutual firepower. ?Qualifiers Peterson and Day were smothered by the constant bombardment.

“I’m always a little nervous before matches, I like it that way,” Ross said. “I feel like it gives me a little edge; I don’t want to get complacent or overconfident.”

Bullets and butterflies aren’t the only thing the two bring to the court together.

“Mentally, we’re on it,” Walsh said. “We share a lot of the same work ethic and vision, the values in life – like all that stuff helps – she’s a great communicator, that’s huge in this sport.”

Ross won last year’s Santa Barbara Open with former partner Jenny Kessy, now retired. Walsh played with Whitney Pavlik soon after winning her third gold medal at the London Olympics with longtime partner Misty May-Treanor, also now retired.


“This is my first time switching partners really,” Ross said. “I’m really happy that we’re together at the end of this season so that we can get an idea of what we need to work on and how it feels. I think that’s going to make a big difference going into preseason next year.

“But I don’t know how long it’s going to take, hopefully it’s really fast.”

The partners continued on to defeat ninth-seeded?Lane Carico and Heather Hughes in the second round 21-15, 21-15. Their next match will be against?Dianne DeNecochea and Raquel Ferreira, who pulled off a pair of upsets on Friday. As the 13th seed, Ferreira and DeNecochea topped fourth-seeded Summer Ross and Emily Day in the first round and fifth-seeded Christal Engle and?Tealle?Hunkus in the second round.

Todd Rogers - AVP Santa Barbara Open

Santa Barbara’s favorite son Todd Rogers

“It went really well. It’s really exciting and everything feels really good, but I just think we’re almost too excited right now. I just think the more comfortable we get together on the court, the better it’s going to be,” Ross said.

There were multiple upsets in the men’s draw, most notably the brother combo of Brian and Tim Bomgren knocking off second-seeded Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal 16-21, 23-21, 15-7 in the first round.

Todd Rogers, playing with new partner Ryan Doherty, won his opening match before falling in the second round to?Tri Bourne and John Hyden 21-17, 21-11. Rogers, an Olympic gold medal winner who grew up in Santa Barbara playing at San Marcos High School and UCSB, won the Santa Barbara Open two times with former partner Phil Dalhausser.

Dalhausser and Rosenthal will face Rogers and Doherty in the Contender’s Bracket on Saturday if they win their morning match.

Top seeded Casey Patterson and Jake Gibb won two matches without dropping a set. They will meet Hyden and Bourne tomorrow in a winner’s bracket match. Also still in the winner’s bracket is 14th-seed?Russ Marchewka/Derek Olson and 7th-seed?Adrian Carambula/Stafford Slick.

Select matches can be viewed live online during the tournament HERE.

Tournament play continues on Saturday and Sunday at West Beach in Santa Barbara. Admission is free.

Casey Patterson - AVP Santa Barbara

Casey Patterson keeps a point alive for partner Jake Gibb as the men’s top-seeded team won its opening two matches. Patterson led all men’s players in digs and kills on Friday.