- Published Date
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- Category: Women
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Birthdate: June 20, 1982
Hometown: Newport Beach, Calif.
Resides: Costa Mesa, Calif.
Height: 6' 1"
Website (w/Jen Kessy): kessyross.com
BEST FINISH / WINNINGS
Domestic: 1st (15 times) $458,037.50
International: 1st (10 times) $572,775.00
Overall: 1st (25 times) $1,030,812.59
April Ross, who is the first U.S. woman to start her career with three FIVB victories, can now add Olympic silver medalist and AVP Tour champion to her resume, as she and partner Jen Kessy capped off an impressive 2012 that included taking home a silver medal from the London Olympics, two first-place victories on the AVP Tour as well the final FIVB event in Bang Saen, Thailand.
Ross, who started playing professional beach volleyball in 2006, was named the AVP’s Rookie of the Year in 2007 as she and fellow Trojan, Kessy burst on to the scene with a second-place finish in the season opener in Miami. The pair advanced to five additional semifinals, including another championship match. In Hermosa Beach, Calif., the duo defeated Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh in the winner’s bracket, marking just the third time that pair had lost on the AVP Tour prior to the semifinals. Ross ended the season ranked in the Top 10 on the AVP Tour in three different categories: second in aces per set (.99), sixth in kills per set (7.01), and seventh in hitting percentage (.440).
On the FIVB Tour, their first event ended with a loss in the country qualifier, but the next week in Stavanger Grand Slam, they became the lowest seeded team (29th) to win an FIVB event. After winning their country quota match and a pair of qualifier matches, they overcame two early pool play losses and won six straight matches to capture the title in what was just the fourth international event for Ross. The duo also placed second in St. Petersburg. Ross became the first American woman to win the FIVB Rookie of the Year award.
In 2008, Ross and Kessy were in the semifinals in all but one AVP event, advancing on to five championship matches and ending the year as the third-ranked team on the Tour. Ross led the Tour in aces per set (1.24), the highest in AVP Tour history, and was eighth in hitting percentage (.431). Internationally, Ross and Kessy just missed qualifying for the Beijing Olympics, finishing seventh in the world rankings, but as the third American team. They ended the FIVB season with a second place finish followed by victories on consecutive weekends. At the FIVB event in Berlin, Ross recorded the FIVB’s second-fastest serve of the year at 85.7 km/hr.
The pair recorded their first AVP event title in 2009 in Houston, after previously going 0-9 in title matches domestically. They appeared in the finals in nine of their 10 AVP events, winning four times. In Mason, Ohio, the duo extended their streak to 19 consecutive semifinals on the AVP. On the FIVB Tour, Ross and Kessy won the World Championships in Stavanger, Norway, marking the fourth straight time a team from the USA had won that title. In Gstaad, the pair finished fifth, ending a streak of 20 consecutive tournaments (AVP and FIVB) in the semifinals and six straight FIVB gold medal match appearances. Ross and Kessy also won another of the six medals they earned during that season in Marseille.
In a streak from October 2008 through the 2010 Moscow Grand Slam, Ross and Kessy played for a medal in 17 of their 20 FIVB events, winning seven golds, six silvers and three bronzes in that span. With their win at Chicago in 2009, the pair became just the sixth team worldwide to surpass the $1 million mark in career earnings as a partnership.
After qualifying for their first Olympics in 2012, Kessy and Ross cruised through pool play unscathed, taking down teams from Spain, the Netherlands and Argentina. In the playoffs, they only dropped one set in three matches, setting up an All-American championship match against Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor. The pair came up short, losing in straight sets to take home the silver medal.
Since the retirement of May-Treanor, Ross and Kessy have established themselves as the new American team to beat, going undefeated through both AVP Tour events on back-to-back weekends, and capping off the 2012 season with a 21-19, 21-16 victory over Kerri Walsh and partner Nicole Branagh at the AVP Championships in Santa Barbara. In their final international event of the year, the pair overcame a loss to fellow American team Lauren Fendrick and Nicole Branagh to win five straight matches and capture gold in Bang Saen, Thailand. Ross and Kessy closed out 2012 as the fourth-ranked team in the world with 5,360 points.
Ross started every single match in her career at the University of Southern California, and led the team in kills and points each year. She also led the team in digs until the start of the libero position in 2002. Ross was the National Freshman of the Year and was first-team All-Pac 10 each of her four seasons. She was selected as an AVCA second-team All-American as a freshman and a first-year selection her junior and senior years. Ross led the team to back-to-back National Championships in 2002 and 2003 and was the conference’s Player of the Year in 2003 as a senior. Twice she earned Academic All-Pac 10 honors.
Ross was the 1999 Gatorade Circle of Champions National Player of the Year her senior year of high school, in addition to being a “Fab 50” selection. She lettered all four years in volleyball and track and earned three letters in basketball as well as being an honor roll student each year. In the summers of 2000 and 2001, she was a member of the USA Junior National Team. She was also a member of the USA A2 women’s National Phase 1 Team in 2002, and the Women’s National Team in 2003. Ross is married to fellow AVP player, Brad Keenan and the couple resides in Costa Mesa, Calif.