April Ross and Jen Kessy are looking to add Olympic gold to their already impressive resumes
Name: April Ross/Jennifer Kessy
Born: Costa Mesa, California/San Clemente, California
First Year Pro: 2004/2002
April Ross: Ross’ arrival on the professional volleyball scene was a much-anticipated one; her sheer dominance at the college level had turned a lot of heads. In her four-year career at USC, she led the Trojans to three Final Fours and two National Titles and still ranks top six in eight statistical categories: first in total points and points per game, second in serve aces and serve aces per game, fourth in attacks, fifth in kills, kills per game and digs and sixth in digs per game. She announced her arrival to the AVP tour with a Rookie of the Year award (2006) and followed that up with being named the Top Rookie (2007) on the FIVB tour.
Jennifer Kessy: A few years ahead of Ross at USC, Kessy was named a first team All-American in her final year with the Trojans. After a few years playing professionally for a few clubs, she took the AVP by storm in 2004-05, teaming up with Olympian Barbra Fontana and earning the AVP Most Improved Player Award. Since then she has become a force on the court, earning the AVP “Best of the Beach” in 2008 and 2009 (the only player to win the award in consecutive years) and has earned well over $1M in winnings for 2004.
Team: It was only a matter of time before these two Trojans connected on the court and once they did, they clicked immediately, becoming one of the best tandems in the world. They announced their arrival in 2008 with an upset AVP win over the then world number one duo Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh and proved it wasn’t a fluke a year later on the international circuit, unseating Brazilians Juliana and Larissa in the FIVB World Championships. As of April 2012, the duo have eight AVP first-place finishes and nine FIVB title wins.
Kessy on qualifying for 2012 games: “It was always a dream…I thought I’d have the chance in 2008 and just missed it, and I thought, `Maybe that was my chance.‘ And then this opportunity came along, and we worked hard for it, and it’s definitely been a dream for too long.”
Olympic Scouting Report: Ross and Kessy may be veterans of the AVP and FIVB tours, but they’re rookies when it comes to the Olympics, where they are by no means a lock for gold. They face some stiff competition from two teams from Brazil, Juliana/Larissa and Talita/Antonelli, as well as their American counterparts May-Treanor and Walsh. A team from China is also in the mix so this will be an event to watch; no team is an outright frontrunner for the podium.