New York, N. Y., USA, June 12 2017 - Lauren Fendrick realized that new partner April Ross was tough during the semifinals of the American domestic tournament here Sunday as the Association of Volleyball professionals visited the “Big Apple” for the third-straight season.
Ross dislocated her right big toe in in a collision that gave Fendrick’s foot a sizable bruise. Up until first serve of the final, Fendrick believed Ross’ injury would force them to withdraw.
“She’s a warrior,” Fendrick said. “I am lucky to have her by my side.”
Ross decided to partner with Fendrick after splitting with Olympic bronze medal teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings in April.
Ross is already excited about her compatibility on defense with the 6-foot-1 Fendrick, the 2014 and 2016 AVP Best Blocker who is nicknamed “The Long Arm of the Law” because she earned her law degree from USC.
“I think she is one of the best blockers in the world, if not the best blocker in the world,” Ross said. “I love playing behind her. She takes up so much space.”
Lauren Fendrick (left) and April Ross captured the New York AVP stop Sunday with five-straight wins
Walsh Jennings and new partner Nicole Branagh are set to make their FIVB World Tour season debut beginning June 26 in Porec, Croatia. Ross and Fendrick are also on the entries list.
Walsh Jennings and Ross have not been on opposite sides of the net in an international tournament since 2012, when Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor defeated Ross and Jennifer Kessy for the gold medal at the London Olympics.
“To be honest, for my entire career, I’ve focused on my side of the net,” Ross said. “That’s going to continue to be the case. If we do come up against her, it will be just like any other team out there on the international tour.”
Ross, 34, will figure out her long-term partner plans for the 2020 Olympics, as well as the timing of starting a family with husband Brad Keenan, after this season.
Until then, she is focused on the Beach Volleyball World Championships that start July 28 in Vienna, Austria.
“Other than the Olympics, this is the biggest event beach volleyball has,” said Ross, the 2009 world champion with Jen Kessy. “It’s definitely the No. 1 priority for me this year.”
Prior to the New York AVP event Ross met with local students who helped raise $162,160 for the Side-Out Foundation
to fund critical research and clinical trials in late stage metastatic breast cancer. Ross lost her mother, Margie, to breast cancer in 2001.
Despite the dislocated toe, Ross and Fendrick are still scheduled to compete this week in the Dela Beach Open starting Thursday in The Hague as the FIVB World Tour returns to The Netherlands for the first-time since the country hosted the 2015 World Championships.
An excited April Ross (left) at the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals with Lauren Fendrick in the pair's first international event together.
In their last appearance in The Netherlands, Fendrick and Brooke Sweat placed fifth while Ross and Walsh Jennings finished ninth. The 2015 event also marked the first tournament for Walsh Jennings after she had dislocated her right should a month earlier in Moscow.
Moscow was also the first-time Ross and Fendrick played together this season as the American pair finished ninth after being eliminated by Karla Borger/Margareta Kozuch (of Germany 2-0 (25-23, 23-21) in 44 minutes. Previously, Ross and Fendrick had twice in September 2015 after Walsh Jennings was sidelined due to pending shoulder surgery.
Lauren Fendrick (left) with April Ross at last month's FIVB World Tour stop in Moscow
In their first two tournament together, Ross and Fendrick captured an AVP stop in Huntington Beach, Calif., in mid-September before finishing fifth at the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale where the Americans lost their last two matches to Rio 2016 Olympic pairs Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst of Germany and Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan of Canada.
In their four events together, Fendrick and Ross have compiled two firsts, a fifth and a ninth with an overall match mark of 15-3. Ten of the victories have been on the American domestic tour with all three setbacks on the FIVB World Tour.