Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross of the United States lost their first set of the Olympics, but won the decisive third set Wednesday to beat Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland.
The Swiss pair won 24-22 in the second set after failing to convert on its first three set points, evening the match. But the U.S. prevailed in the third.
It was just the second set Walsh Jennings has ever lost at a summer games. She won three gold medals with Misty May-Treanor, sweeping Athens and Beijing before losing a single set in London.
Ross lost to Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor in the London gold medal game, earning silver, but not before taking a set from them in the match. Now she's teamed up with Walsh Jennings.
The Americans won the first set 21-13 on Wednesday night.
The collaboration between Ross and Walsh Jennings goes beyond the Copacabana beach volleyball venue, beyond the California beaches where they trained for the Olympics and beyond the far-flung airports and hotel rooms they visited to qualify for the Summer Games.
The Americans also worked together with pen and paper to design their Olympic uniforms — sewing for gold while they were going for gold.
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"It was Kerri's idea originally to design our own suits," Ross said this week on an off-day from the beach volleyball competition.
"She brought it up, and I liked the idea a lot. It's so cool. It just gives you more ownership of the whole thing."
With its two-person partnerships, beach volleyball is more similar to an individual pursuit like tennis or golf than a team sport like basketball, where the players are picked by a federation. So instead of a team sponsor that dictates the look and logo of the uniform, players can sign their own deals and choose their own gear.
But Walsh Jennings and Ross didn't want to thumb through a catalog and buy off the rack. They came up with an idea for a uniform top, and Ross sketched out an initial design. She sent it off to her sponsor to see what they could do.