Monday, 27 March 2023

International Volleyball

Zana Muno, Kerri Walsh Jennings to partner for two events

Zana Muno, Lauren Fendrick make last-second dash into Hamburg Elite 16

As the partnership dominoes have mostly fallen, the Olympic race having already begun, there still remained two oft-asked questions: What is Zana Muno’s partnership status? And are Kerri Walsh Jennings and Logan Tom actually going to make a run at the 2024 Games?

Neither of those questions have a certain or permanent answer, but a temporary one has been provided: Muno and Walsh Jennings will be competing in next week’s King of the Court season-opener in Miami, and they are also on the entry list for the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge in Itapema, Brazil, April 6-9.

“I’m just excited about the opportunity to play with a true champion in the sport of beach volleyball,” said Muno, a 26-year-old playing in her fifth professional season. “There is so much to learn from such an accomplished and experienced player and I’m honored to take the court with the her.”

Walsh Jennings has expressed a desire to maintain a low profile — as low as the most decorated player in the sport’s history can maintain, anyway — and politely declined interviews at least until April.

There are a few obvious appeals that would draw Walsh Jennings to Muno, most notably that Muno led the AVP in digs per set in 2022 and has demonstrated an ability to find success no matter who’s blocking for her. She has finished as high as third on the AVP with Crissy Jones (twice), Kelley Kolinske (once), and Brandie Wilkerson (twice), qualified for the Phoenix Gold Series Championships with Sarah Pavan, and won medals internationally with Jones (gold in the Leuven one-star in 2021), Toni Rodriguez (bronze in the Coolangatta Futures last March), and Allie Wheeler (silver in the Aguascalientes NORCECA in April). She was even competitive in an emergency split-blocking scenario with Savvy Simo in Manhattan Beach of 2021, when Jones had to pull out last minute with an injury, and finished fifth in Hermosa Beach with Lauren Fendrick, which marked the best AVP finish for Fendrick in 2022.

There is also the critical matter of points.

Tom doesn’t have any, either on the AVP or Beach Pro Tour, and unless Walsh Jennings has been able to freeze hers on the Beach Pro Tour, she will also be entering events with zero. If Tom and Walsh Jennings were to play together, they’d need to either begin in a Futures event or sign up for Challenges and Elite 16s in the hopes of attaining a wild card (they had signed up for the upcoming Futures in Coolangatta but…

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