April Ross was raised in Newport Beach, California, and in high school she lettered in volleyball, track and basketball. She went on to play volleyball in college at USC, where she became one of the most decorated players in school history. Ross graduated from USC in 2005, and began her beach volleyball career the following year with former college teammate Keao Burdine. In 2007, Ross paired up with Jennifer Kessy, and the pair found huge international success together over the next several years. After failing to qualify for the 2008 Olympics, the pair competed at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, and took home the silver medal. Shortly after, Ross teamed up with former competitor and three-time gold medalist Kerri Walsh-Jennings to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Early Volleyball Career
April Elizabeth Ross was born on June 20, 1982, in Costa Mesa, California. She played multiple sports in high school (at Newport Harbor High School, where Misty May-Treanor also went)—among them basketball, track and volleyball—and excelled in each.
After high school, Ross entered the University of Southern California, where she majored in international relations and joined the volleyball team. Over the course of her four years at USC, Ross led the team each season in kills, kills per game, and points. She also earned numerous honors along the way, including 2003 Pac-10 Player of the Year and four All-America selections, and she was named USC's first-ever National Freshman of the Year.
Teaming Up with Kessy
In 2006, Ross began her beach volleyball career with former USC teammate Keao Burdine. The duo never finished better than ninth in tournaments, however, and in 2007 Ross teamed up with Jennifer Kessy. The two found near-immediate success, with an early notable victory over Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings, which was only the third defeat handed out to the storied pair before the semifinal round on the AVP tour. Over the next five years, Ross and Kessy won tournaments around the world, collecting medals and climbing in the rankings. By August 2009, Ross and Kessy went over the $1 million mark as a team in lifetime earnings, the third American pair to do so. Up to the London Games, Ross had earned $975,463 over the course of her career.
From October 2008 through the 2010 Moscow Grand Slam, Ross and Kessy played for a medal in 17 of the 20 FIVB events in which they participated, and they won seven golds, six silvers and three bronzes. Despite Ross recording the Federation of International Volleyball's second-fastest serve on record (85.7 km/hour in Berlin), that year was tainted by one notable disappointment: The duo failed to advance through the qualifying rounds leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Rebounding from the failure to reach the Beijing games, when the London games came calling in 2012, Ross and Kessy made their first Olympic appearance. They reached the gold medal round to face Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings, in the only all-American beach volleyball final in Olympics history. May-Treanor and Walsh-Jennings proved to be too strong, however, and Ross and Kessy fell in a close match, 2-0 (21-16, 21-16), taking home the silver medal.
In August 2012 May-Treanor announced her retirement, and with that an opportunity for a new partnership began: Ross decided to team up with Walsh-Jennings for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Ranked as third in the world in their sport, the duo had been unstoppable and was seen as a possible gold medal contender. However, their dream for the top prize was shattered when they lost the first two sets during their semifinal with Brazil, the no. 2 ranked team in the world.
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