For all their talk about being a new team and having inconsistencies, April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings are pretty good.
This year on the AVP tour, they have lost just two of 40 sets and have yet to lose a match. They've won all three AVP tournaments along the way.
Their dominance continued Saturday at the AVP's Manhattan Beach Open, where they advanced to the semifinals more emphatically than any other team, not losing a set.
They also extended their AVP winning streak to 19 matches.
But after punching their ticket to the semifinals with a 21-12, 21-15 victory over Lane Carico and Kim DiCello, Ross and Walsh Jennings weren't satisfied.
"That was just not good volleyball at the end," Walsh Jennings said. "Just bad choices."
Ross provided an example.
"Yeah, I think we rushed it a bit," she said. "I know I took a swing where I just wanted to hit it as hard as I could, and that's not necessarily the best choice. I should've sided out the same way I was siding out every other ball."
In the second set, Ross and Walsh Jennings had their first match point-opportunity with a 20-12 lead. Carico and DiCello went on a 3-0 run before Ross finished off the set and match with a kill.
"I don't think it was so much a run," Walsh Jennings said. "I think it was a, 'Here ...'"
"'Take a couple,'" Ross added.
"We don't like that," Walsh Jennings said. "They're too good for that."
It's the fierce mentality of a team aiming for more — perhaps their fourth AVP title in a row.
They're on track to do that, possibly against the same team as in the last three.
At each of the previous AVP tournament finals this season, Walsh Jennings and Ross played Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat, who handed Walsh Jennings and Ross those two set losses, one each in the finals at St. Petersburg, Fla., and Milwaukee.
Fendrick and Sweat advanced directly to one of the semifinals with a three-set victory over fellow Olympic hopefuls Summer Ross and Emily Day in three sets. Ross and Walsh Jennings reached the other semifinal. The tournament is double elimination, so four teams with one loss each still have a chance at the remaining two semifinal slots.
On the men's side, several of the top-seeded teams had close matches.
In their first match of the day, top-seeded Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson lost to No. 9 Billy Allen and Trevor Crabb in two sets. Gibb and Patterson won last weekend's AVP tournament in Salt Lake City.
Allen and Crabb then lost in three sets to No. 4 Brad Keenan and John Mayer, who beat No. 5 Theo Brunner and Todd Rogers, 21-16, 22-24, 15-11 earlier in the day.
No. 6 Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal defeated No. 3 Ryan Doherty and Nick Lucena in three sets.
Fatigue can play a role in close matches, with many of the top U.S. teams worn down from international travel, Dalhausser said. But it also speaks to the high quality of competition on the AVP tour.
"There's some definitely good talent out here," Rosenthal said. "We're stoked to see it. It's good for the tour.
"It's good to see new faces out here doing well, and we just got to try to keep them in their place and not let them take down all the top seeds," he added.
Dalhausser had his own opinion.
"I'd rather just cruise to the semis and not have to worry about these young guys, but unfortunately that's not the case," he joked.
American teams that also compete internationally have won four gold medals at internationally sanctioned events, the most of any country this season. Dalhausser and Rosenthal have three titles, and Tri Bourne and John Hyden have the other.
"That's what AVP does," Rosenthal said. "You see our teams overseas, and we play better over there because of it."
Dalhausser and Rosenthal advanced directly to the semifinals along with Keenan and Mayer.
Matches begin Sunday at 8:15 a.m., with the finals scheduled for 1 p.m.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times