April Ross confirms teaming with Kerri Walsh Jennings

April Ross, a former Newport Harbor High standout, has confirmed that she will team with three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings before the end of the season, Ross told FIVB.com Monday.

Multiple media outlets had reported a link between Ross and Walsh Jennings teaming up, but Ross had never officially confirmed it.

"I'm excited to be playing with Kerri," Ross told FIVB.com. "Going towards Rio [2016 Olympics] we plan to be partners and go for Rio. We don't plan to be together until maybe September or October, just to get a little experience going into 2014.

"We're 100 percent planning on it, Jen [Kessy] is in on it. It was a collaborative thing and I wanted to make sure that Jen was OK with it. It has been such a special partnership with Jen, I didn't want it to end badly in any way, so we all worked it together and that is what is we are all happy with."

Walsh Jennings won three straight gold medals in women's beach volleyball with Misty May-Treanor, also a former Newport Harbor High star, who retired.

Ross is playing with former UC Irvine standout Whitney Pavlik at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Poland.

Ross and Pavlik opened the tournament with a win against fellow Americans Lauren Fendrick and Brittany Hochevar, 21-15, 21-15, Monday.

Jennifer Kessy, Ross' regular teammate who with Ross won the 2009 World Championships in Stavanger and the silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games, withdrew with hip and Achilles injuries.

Ross and Walsh Jennings are set to compete in the Gstaad Grand Slam in Switzerland that follows the World Championships. It is Walsh Jennings' return since the birth of her third child.

Ross plans to play with Kessy for the Long Beach Grand Slam July 22-27, though ultimately the plan is to play with Walsh before the year's end, according to FIVB.com.

Ross and Kessy have won medals at 32 FIVB beach volleyball events, including 10 gold medals. Most recently, they took silver at the Rome Grand Slam June 23.

— Steve Virgen

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