May-Treanor/Walsh sweep Brazil, will play for gold

You’d think playing for a shot at the gold medal game would be tougher than this.

Not when you’re Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh and you’re riding a 107-game winning streak.

The duo dispatched their second Brazilian team in as many matches, ousting Renata and Talita, 21-12 and 21-14, and will move on to face Tian Jia and Wang of China for the gold. The final match will be televised live in the Eastern and Central time zones at 11 PM/10 PM on Wednesday night on NBC. (We lowly Pacific time zoners don’t get the honor of seeing the match live because NBC is too lazy to produce a separate broadcast for us. Hello, McFly! Misty May and Kerri Walsh are from California! People here might want to see the match live, you dig? Grrr.)

Color commentator Karch Kiraly said during tonight’s broadcast that if the duo is able to win gold in these Olympics, they’ll be hands down the best team – men’s or women’s – ever to play beach volleyball. That’s high praise from the salty dog.

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May-Treanor/Walsh advance to semis

Surprisingly, it wasn’t on in primetime in the States (and unfortunately I missed it), but Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh dispatched Brazil in two sets, 21-18 and 21-15.

It figured to be the toughest opponent yet for the Americans, but an unheralded team from Belgium actually gave them a stiffer test in the round of 16.

Then again, this isn’t your typical Brazilian team. The No. 3 seed overall entering the tournament, yes. But it wasn’t these two women together who earned that ranking. Ana Paula is a replacement for Larissa’s regular partner Juliana Silva, who landed awkwardly in a match and injured her knee earlier this season. She declined immediate surgery in hopes of seeing her first Olympics, but two days before competition in Beijing was set to begin, Juliana withdrew. Thus, Brazilian rivals were asked to keep their country’s tradition strong.

You can’t fault a 25-year-old for desperately desiring her Olympic debut, but Juliana’s late decision appears to have ended up hurting her partner. Ana Paula arrived in China a day before the Opening Ceremony to begin training with a woman whom she had never played a prior match.

Confusion plagued the two throughout. At times it looked like Ana Paula wanted to lead, being the being the more-experienced of the two, but this was Larissa’s team. Ana Paula would have been at home watching if it weren’t for Larissa. Late in the second set, Larissa sat on a wall next to their bench to turn her whole body toward Ana Paula and lecture. No matter the reluctance a two-Olympian might have in getting instruction from someone 10 years younger, it was too little too late.

NBC will have coverage of the Americans’ next match in primetime on Monday night. In other action, Elaine Youngs and Nicole Branagh fell to Xue Chen and Zhang Xi of China in straight sets, eliminating the possibility of an All-American final.

May/Walsh survive a tough first set to beat Belgium

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh were tested in the first set of their first elimination match against Belgium, but they fought off five set points to come back and win, 24-22. Liesbeth Mouha stands 6’4″ and her height (and girth) gave Walsh trouble at the net. That, coupled with Liesbet van Breedam’s cut shots gave the Belgians the first set lead.

But the Americans – specifically, May-Treanor – were outstanding down the stretch of that first set. At one point, May-Treanor had four straight digs and several nice kills to turn the tide of the match.

The U.S. dominated the second set, 21-10, to win their 105th straight match. More importantly, they advance to the round of eight and are one step closer to defending their 2004 gold medal.

May-Treanor/Walsh blow by Norway

104 and counting.

That’s how many matches Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh have won in a row. Their latest victims were Norway’s Nila Haakedal and Ingrid Toerlen, who looked pretty good in their bikinis, but were otherwise no match for May and Walsh. The U.S. team won their final preliminary round match, 21-12 and 21-15, and now move on to the 16-team single-elimination tournament.

Presumably, their first round match will be a part of NBC’s Friday night primetime coverage. Ratings, ratings, ratings…

May-Treanor/Walsh dispatch Cuba

America’s beach volleyball sweethearts, Misty May-Treanor (right) and Kerri Walsh, took care of business in their second match of the Games, defeating Cuba in two games, 21-15 and 21-16. It was a business-like, efficient win for the seemingly unbeatable pair, who have now won 103 straight matches.

The match was never in doubt, and that was reflected in the announcing. We found out how both May and Walsh met their respective husbands. (It turns out Walsh actually met her husband at the scrimmage where she played with May for the first time. Talk about kismet!) We learned about how Walsh lost her wedding band during the duo’s first match in Bejing and how it was found by a volunteer who was sifting through the sand after the night’s matches were complete. And we found out that both May and Walsh want to start families after this tournament and how these Olympics might be their last.

The loss came on the same day (in the U.S., anyway) that the Cuban women’s indoor volleyball team crushed Team USA. I wonder if there is any kind of rivalry between indoor and beach given how much attention the latter is getting these days.

For May-Treanor/Walsh, next up is Norway, and that match will be televised in primetime Wednesday night. Then the duo will move on to a single-elimination tournament.

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