Kerri Walsh Jennings has not made an official announcement about a new partner, but the three-time Olympic gold medalist teamed up with 2017 USC alumna Kelly Claes for the top podium spot at the NORCECA Women’s Qualifier on Wednesday.
Walsh Jennings/Claes defeated Lauren Fendrick/Sarah Sponcil 21-14, 16-21, 15-13 in the final, while Kelley Larsen/Emily Stockman topped April Ross/Alix Klineman 21-18, 21-17 for third place.
Claes played the 2018 FIVB season with Brittany Hochevar after splitting with collegiate partner Sara Hughes in March.
“This is an exciting opportunity for me to get to know one of the young super stars of our sport,” Walsh Jennings told beachmajorseries.com. “Kelly will undoubtedly go far in her career and I’m looking forward to witnessing it and to participating, a bit, through this NORCECA qualifier opportunity.
“We’ve had two practices and Kelly is a really fun athlete with whom to share the court. I’m excited for tomorrow. Hopefully we are successful – that’s the plan! – in qualifying and we’ll share more time on the court in October with the Dominican Republic NORCECA event.”
The event, which was played in Manhattan Beach, California, was a playoff for the NORCECA event in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, set for Oct. 4-7.
Walsh Jennings/Claes earned a bye to Round 2, where they defeated Walsh Jennings’ former partner Nicole Branagh and Caitlin Ledoux 21-18, 26-24. In the third round, the pair bested Larsen/Stockman 21-19, 16-21, 15-12.
Fendrick/Sponcil earned their way to the final with wins over Emily Day/Betsi Flint (21-12, 19-21, 15-11) and Ross/Klineman (21-18, 21-18).
Walsh Jennings and Claes seemed to enjoy their outing.
It was great fun playing with @kellyclaes3 🙌🙌🙌 Looking forward to the @NorcecaInfo event in October. https://t.co/g8R5Fr28qO
— Kerri Walsh Jennings (@kerrileewalsh) August 23, 2018
Such a blast with this AMAZING stud!! Can’t wait for the @NorcecaInfo Continental Finals!!@kerrileewalsh Let’s do this!! https://t.co/8ClczBJzun
— Kelly Claes (@kellyclaes3) August 23, 2018
On the men’s side, both Ryan Doherty/Billy Allen and Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb qualified and a final match was not played. Instead, according to USA Volleyball, the teams played rock, paper, scissors for the win with Doherty/Allen officially taking the victory.
Rock Paper Scissor Champions. @vbvacations https://t.co/M3Zhwmwb3I
— Billy Allen (@billyketchallen) August 22, 2018
Avery Drost/Eric Zaun defeated Jeremy Casebeer/Reid Priddy for third place (21-14, 21-18).
Doherty/Allen started the tournament in Round 2, topping Ed Ratledge/Troy Field 21-13, 18-21, 15-7, then downing Drost/Zaun 21-14, 21-17.
Crabb/Gibb began with a 21-17, 21-14 win over Trevor Crabb/Tri Bourne. The pair then squeaked past Casebeer/Priddy 21-14, 18-21, 15-9.
Twelve men’s teams and 12 women’s were part of the playoff field.
Women's NORCECA Qualifier: 3rd Round
Fendrick/Sponcil def A Ross/Klineman, 21-18, 21-18
Walsh Jennings/Claes def Larsen/Stockman, 21-19, 16-21, 15-12
Final: Walsh Jennings/Claes def Fendrick/Sponcil, 21-14, 16-21, 15-13
3rd: Larsen/Stockman def Ross/Klineman, 21-18, 21-17 pic.twitter.com/vegfRwYOW0
— USAV Beach (@USAVBeach) August 23, 2018
Men's NORCECA Qualifier: Round 3
Ta Crabb/J Gibb def J Casebeer/R Priddy, 21-14, 18-21, 15-9
R Doherty/B Allen def A Drost/E Zaun, 21-14, 21-17
Men's Final: R Doherty/B Allen win by default over Ta Crabb/J Gibb
Men's 3rd: A Drost/E Zaun def J Casebeer/R Priddy, 21-14, 21-18 pic.twitter.com/sGokBoHVZA
— USAV Beach (@USAVBeach) August 22, 2018