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Kerri Walsh Jennings says bronze 'meant so much more' than gold medals

Kerri Walsh Jennings says bronze 'meant so much more' than gold medals

Walsh Jennings also is in unfamiliar territory: Her first Olympic loss in beach volleyball. The Germany vs. Brazil gold medal match will be played at midnight.

With their second win in six global meetings with Talita and Larissa, Ross and Walsh Jennings will join Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst of Germany and Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas of Brazil on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games women's Beach Volleyball podium.

Walsh Jennings had won three gold medals with Misty May-Treanor and had never lost an Olympic match.

Walsh Jennings overestimated an amount of aces - the Brazilians only had five total in the match - but she clearly felt her return game was a major deciding factor in the outcome. "This is a highlight of my athletic career, without a doubt". After falling to Brazil's Agatha and Barbara in the semifinals, Walsh Jennings and London silver medalist April Ross, were knocked out of contention for the gold medal. But the three-time champion delivered a pair of blocks for the final two points to clinch the bronze.

They fought back. As a small section of fans chanted "U-S-A", Walsh Jennings and Ross ripped off several points in a row, erasing a three-point deficit and taking a three-point lead of their own. She hugged a few friends, then walked past a bar on the other side of a fence, where a group of Americans rose and gave her a standing ovation.

"As an athlete that's honestly the hardest game I've played in my life", Walsh Jennings said.

"We could squash that team, and I say that with all the respect in the world", Walsh Jennings said.

Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross formed their partnership just moments after the London Gold Medal Match.

"I think she's the best player that we have for beach volleyball for all (time)", Talita said. Although for Kerri Walsh Jennings, you wondered if they ever would. Italy defeated Russian in the other men's semifinal. "The bronze medal match is the gnarliest match I've ever played in my career because either you go home with a attractive medal or you get nothing".

The most thrilling point of the match came at 13-12 Brazil, when both teams traded diving shot after diving shot, eventually ending in a Brazil victor down the middle. They fell behind big at the start of the second set, with Brazil picking up another ace against Walsh Jennings. She returned from a 2015 shoulder operation - torn labrum- in January and had to work her way back into form along with Ross, as they worked their way through the Olympic qualifying process.

"I don't agree", she said.

"It hit the heart", said Walsh Jennings. "He made it about being your best".

"I wanted to go with Kerri or with no one", Ross told San Jose Mercury News.

"It still hasn't sunk in what we've done, beating a player who has never lost at the Olympics", said Bednarczuk, who won the world championships past year with Seixas.

Brazil's loss leaves the home country with two beach volleyball medals on home sand. But to match the feat in Rio, the women will have to beat the defending world champions.

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