The One with a Volleyball Party at the Beach

Fun Fact of the Day:  Women’s beach volleyball players wear much skimpier uniforms than their male counterparts. Tiny 2-pieces were a required part of the dress code for women until 2012, but they have since changed the rules to include more modest body suits, which has allowed Muslim athletes to compete. But many women (including superstar Kerri Walsh Jennings) continue to opt for the 2-piece suits because they reduce chafing and there are fewer places for sand to hide.


Today's Rundown

OLYMPICS 

Track and Field.  The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller dove towards the finish line to narrowly beat out American Allyson Felix in the 400m. With this silver, Felix wins a big consolation prize: her medal count is up to 7, making her the U.S.’s most decorated female track athlete just above Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Felix still has a chance for gold in the 4x400m relay on Friday.

Gymnastics.  Superstar favorite Simone Biles took home bronze after a near-spill on the balance beam yesterday. Don’t fret, she still has a chance at a 4th gold medal today in floor exercise. Fellow American Laurie Hernandez won silver, while Sanne Wevers took home gold and made history as the first Dutch gymnast to medal in balance beam.


Spotlight on Kerri Walsh Jennings & April Ross

America’s best beach volley-ballers are playing in the semifinals tonight!  They will play against reigning world champions and Brazil’s hometown heroes Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas, in a highly anticipated match up.  Here’s what you need to know about the U.S.’s super team.

Tell me about Kerri.  Kerri’s one of the biggest stars of beach volleyball. She and her husband (who is also a pro beach volleyball player) have 3 children, including a daughter that Kerri was famously 5 weeks pregnant with during the 2012 Olympics. Even though she had shoulder surgery last summer and just celebrated her 38th birthday on Monday, Kerri is still going strong and hasn’t decided whether she’ll be back for Tokyo 2020.

A volleyball meet cute.  Kerri won 3 gold medals in the Olympics with her former teammate Misty May-Treanor. Together they were considered the best beach volleyball team of all time. They played their last match at the 2012 Olympics, where they won gold and beat out fellow Americans April Ross and Jennifer Kessy. When as the gold and silver teams were hugging each other after the match, Kerri said to Ross, “Let’s go win gold in Rio.” Ross was caught off guard but she agreed. (Her partner Kessy was also retiring after the games.) The rest, as they say, is history.

Tell me about April.  Just like Kerri, April started out playing indoor volleyball.  She played professionally in Puerto Rico but became homesick and disenchanted with the game. She returned home to California and started hostess-ing at a restaurant. She got into beach volleyball for the first time when a friend invited her to play in some tournaments.

The new duo.  Even though April and Kerri hate the comparisons, their coach has said that April is a more physical and powerful player, whereas Misty was a bit more creative and crafty. Before they were a team, both Kerri and April played on the left-hand side of the court, but Kerri volunteered to move to the right. April was super relieved, because it’s a very tricky transition to reverse all the angles, passes, and footwork, but Kerri has picked it up beautifully.


Seen and Heard

MLB

Skip that track.  During Sunday’s loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, a Chicago Cubs employee played Prodigy's "Smack My B*** Up" over the sound system. Pretty much always inappropriate, but this time particularly horrific because relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman closed out the game. He was suspended the first 29 games of this season because he was accused of assaulting his girlfriend. The Cubs apologized and fired the employee responsible yesterday.

 

NFL

Talk or walk. The NFL is giving an ultimatum to 4 players who were implicated for doping violations by an Al-Jazeera documentary. So far, the players haven’t cooperated with the investigation. Now, the NFL says, Enough is enough and if they don’t give interviews by August 25, they could be suspended indefinitely.


Hot Read

OLYMPICS

Beach volleyball. Watch Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross compete against the Brazilian home team. 10:59pm ET on NBC.

Gymnastics. Watch Simone Biles and Aly Raisman compete in floor exercise. Online streaming at 1:47pm ET, 8pm ET on NBC.