It was the latest Kerri Walsh Jennings had ever played a volleyball match.
She and partner April Ross arrived at the Copacabana’s beach volleyball stadium well after midnight, their start time shoved by the three-set preliminary conflict between China and the Swiss.
“We’re night owls,” said Ross.
“It’s a celebration setting. Particularly under the lights,” said Walsh Jennings. “Hopefully people at home were viewing. I believe that’s why we have the late starts.”
This was Walsh Jennings’ first Olympic match with Ross as her partner, following the retirement of Misty May-Treanor since the London Games in 2012. She and May Treanor teamed to win three beach volleyball gold medals, but the 37-year-old star is quick to profess her admiration for her new partner.
They shared a lengthy hug before the match.
“I’ve been so excited all day. I have to share this energy. When I don’t have my children or my husband around, I force them to hug me at times … it’s such a journey that is shared. I love her and we’re connected. It’s like ‘give me a hug, we’re in this,” said Walsh Jennings.
The American tournament favorites are back at it at midnight on Monday night, with another preliminary match against the Chinese team of Yuan Yue and Fan Wang.