The U.S. men have been eliminated from the beach volleyball final for the first time since Athens, but the women more than made up for it; both U.S. women’s teams made it to the gold medal match.
Two-time defending champs Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh Jennings won their match against the Chinese duo of Chen Xue and Zhang Xi in straight, but not easy sets: both went to 22–20. The U.S. ladies came back from five points down in the first set, and the biggest lead they could gain in the second set was three points.
Walsh Jennings’ blocking and service aces supported her partner’s 22 kills.
“To come back from the deficit that we had in set one is great. They were playing awesome but we made it happen. I’m speechless. I think we played as a unit, so I’m very happy,” May-Treanor told London2012.com
The other U.S. women, Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, had a hard fight on their hands, facing Brazilians Juliana Silva and Larissa Franca, who had beaten the U.S. squad in their last nine meetings.
Steady hard rain fell throughout the match, but the players seemed not to notice, so intent was their focus.
Larissa led the Brazilian attack, landing spikes seemingly anywhere she wanted despite the American defense. The Brazilians won the first set 21–15; not many people gave the Americans a chance at that point.
Jennifer Kessy started making stuff blocks halfway thought the second set, while both U.S. players started hitting kills. The Brazilians continued to play well. The score stayed within three throughout the set. A Kessy block and a Ross kill got the Americans the two in a row they needed to win the second set 21–19.
Larissa lost a little of her focus in the third set, serving long and spiking wide, which let Kessy and Ross get ahead 9–6. Brazil called timeout and on the sidelines Larissa seemed to be angry with her partner, though Larissa had made all the errors.
The pep talked worked; the Brazilians closed to within one at 11–10 before Larissa missed again and Ross got another kill. A U.S. ace created four match points; Brazil fought off two before April Ross blazed a so=pike into Larissa’s body, which the Brazilian couldn’t return.
America is guaranteed a gold and a silver in women’s beach volleyball. Whether Kessy and Ross will win gold in their first Olympics or May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings will retire as three-time champions remains to be seen.