Stanford University has named its beach volleyball Court 1 in honor of one of the greatest volleyball players in history, Stanford alumni Kerri Walsh-Jennings. The recognition was announced during Tuesday’s match against arch-rivals Cal, which Stanford won 3-2.
"I'm a very proud @StanfordBeachVB alum. Indoor is my roots, but beach is my soul."
Welcome home, @kerrileewalsh!#Pac12BVB pic.twitter.com/9gr6HAiVaq
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) April 11, 2017
While at Stanford, almost 20 years before beach volleyball was made an NCAA sport, Walsh Jennings was a four-time All-American who led the Cardinal indoor team to NCAA championships in 1996 and 1997. During that time, she became just the second player in history to receive First Team All-America honors for all four years of their collegiate careers, and the team had an astonishing 122-11 record during her time. She was also named the co-National Player of the Year in 1999 by the AVCA.
Walsh Jennings set several all-time firsts in indoor volleyball, including becoming the first Pac-10 player to record all three of 1,500 kills (1,553), 1,200 digs (1,285), and 500 blocks (502) in her collegiate career.
The year after finishing her collegiate eligibility, Walsh Jennings played at the 2000 Olympic Games for the United States’ indoor team, where they placed 4th. Not long-after, however, she switched to the beach, and began one of the most incredible runs in sporting history.
She and Misty May-Treanor won the women’s beach volleyball gold medal in 2004 without losing a single set in 7 matches. In 2008 – they did so again, not dropping a single set en route to a second straight gold medal. In all, Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor won 108 straight matches, culminating in that Beijing gold.
Their perfect run finally ended in London, where they lost a set to Austria in the preliminary rounds after winning 32 straight at the Olympic level, but the pair still won gold easily, never losing a match, marking three straight gold medals.
By Rio, May-Treanor retired and Walsh Jennings had found a new partner in April Ross. The pair advanced to the semi-finals, where they eventually lost to Agatha and Barbara of Brazil. That marked the first Olympic loss of Walsh Jennings’ beach career – and remains the only, as she and Ross would win the bronze medal match.
“We were honored to play Cal in Kerri’s presence,” said Stanford head coach Andrew Fuller. “We have a great weekend ahead with Oregon, Boise State and Washington, and I’m excited about the direction of our team.”