Lausanne, Switzerland, June 23, 2019 - When Jen Kessy and April Ross fell short of qualifying for the 2008 Olympics, they immediately shifted their focus towards a new goal.
“We didn’t make the Olympics, so we are going to win a World Championship,” Kessy remembers thinking. “That was our goal from the second we didn’t qualify for the Olympics.”
On the sand, they hired a new coach and focused on fitness.
“We thought we needed to lose weight and get in better shape,” Kessy said, “and do stuff that was in our control.”
Off the sand, they devoured motivational books.
“We were doing everything to better ourselves,” Kessy said earlier this month at the AVP New York City Open. “There’s something to setting your mindset and your goals and all your energy towards something.”
Kessy and Ross were the No. 1 seeds at the 2009 Beach Volleyball World Championships in Stavanger, Norway.
In the gold-medal match, they faced Brazilian rivals Larissa Franca and Juliana Felisberta, the 2005 silver medallists and 2007 bronze medallists. Larissa and Juliana had won five of their seven World Tour matches against Kessy and Ross, including both previous meetings in gold-medal matches.
Kessy and Juliana battle at the net in the final of the 2009 World Championships
Yet the Americans won the World Championship in two hard-fought sets (30-28, 23-21).
“The best memory was when the last ball landed and we knew we had won,” Ross said. “I remember jumping into Jen’s arms and just feeling so amazed at what we had done. It will always be one of my fondest memories.”
Part of the prize included a Viking sword.
“To have that sword,” Kessy said, “you know that you were world champion at one time.”
Kessy and Ross with their Viking swords and gold medals at the 2009 World Championships
The final match took place on July 4, which is Independence Day in the United States. Kessy and Ross were able to victoriously wave a USA flag on the country’s most patriotic day.
“It was definitely one of the most amazing moments I’ve had in volleyball,” Kessy said. “Obviously the Olympics, but world champs is something so special.”
Ross will compete at the 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships with her new partner, Alix Klineman. Kessy now coaches Ross and Klineman, who are nicknamed “A-Team.”Quick links - Beach volleyball: