Woman Crush(ing It) Wednesday: April Ross

It's about time we got some volleyball going on here! And with the beach volleyball world tour finals happening as we speak, there's no time like the present to appreciate the best player in the world. (Yeah, I said it. Big words.)

+ April began her volleyball career as an indoor player, as a good amount of beach players tend to. In high school she was the top recruit in her graduating class, won the National Gatorade Player of the Year award when she was a senior, and played on the U.S. Junior National Team. Then she took her talents to USC, where she won just about everything (including back-to-back NCAA championships). She still holds USC's record for points and points per game, like, a decade after she graduated.

+ She began her pro beach career in 2006 and was named AVP Most Improved Player that season. She partnered with Jennifer Kessy before the start of the 2007 season and things immediately took off for the pair, as April was named the FIVB Top Rookie and they upset Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings at an AVP tournament. Their roll continued into 2008, but they just missed qualifying for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games -- they were ranked 7th in the world, but there were two other U.S. teams ranked ahead of them, and each country can only send two teams per gender. So April and Jen missed out by a hair... but then they stormed back to win the 2009 world championships. That season she was named the FIVB's Best Hitter and Best Offensive Player.

+ April and Jen kept killin' it for the next couple of years -- April was named the FIVB Best Hitter and Best Server in 2011 -- and finally got their Olympic berth at London 2012. They went 6-0 before the finals, only dropping three sets in total, before winning silver behind Misty and Kerri. Not too shabby! April was also named the FIVB's Best Server again (and you should be noticing a pattern by now).

+ The 2013 season was April's last playing with Jen as she was stepping away from the sport, and they won all sorts of medals right up until the end. As Jen finished up in the middle of the season, April ended up playing with three other partners to finish out the year: Kerri Walsh Jennings, Jen Fopma and Whitney Pavlik. She and Kerri won two tournaments together (wasting no time!), and at the world championships, she and Whitney finished fourth. (Fourth in the world with someone who wasn't her regular partner. Casual.) April also led the AVP tour in hitting percentage, was second in aces and fourth in kills per game.

+ April began her partnership full-time with Kerri in 2014, when they won all seven AVP events and four FIVB events (out of the 10 they competed in), tying for the most of any pair. Not to sound like a broken record, but she led the AVP tour in service aces and kills per game, and was second in hitting percentage. 2015 was a strange season, as Kerri got injured and April had to split her time among a slue of other partners. But, as in the past, she just keeps doing great things with everyone. She played in an AVP event with Lauren Fendrick -- their first time playing together, ever -- and they won. She's with Lauren again right now, for the FIVB world tour finals, and they just beat the best team in the world. She played with Kerri while Kerri was dealing with her shoulder injury (and unable to serve overhand or attack effectively), and April literally kept their team afloat. She's been incomparably dominant this season.

Now, due to how the Olympic qualification system works, every international tournament this year matters in the rankings. So April's heroics could have very, very important implications for Rio.

Long story short, April is the bomb dot com and don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

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