For instance, we knew “The Star-Spangled Banner” would be played after the women’s beach volleyball gold medal match tonight but which of the two U.S. teams would be standing atop the medal stand?
April Ross and Jennifer Kessey’s win on Tuesday meant an all American Volleyball final as they faced off against reigning champs and fellow Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings.
Two-time defending beach volleyball gold medalists May-Treanor and Walsh advanced to the gold medal match by edging No. 2-seeds Xue Chen and Zhang Xi, the Beijing bronze medalists, Tuesday night in two nail-biting sets, 22-20, 22-20. They faced compatriots Ross and Kessy, who stunned the top-seeded Brazilian team of Juliana Silva and Larissa Franca Tuesday night in the rain, 15-21, 21-19, 15-12.
With their gold medals in Athens in 2004 and in Beijing in 2008, Walsh and May-Treanor captivated America with their volleyball skill and telegenic charm. But then May-Treanor, who turned 35 last week, ruptured her Achilles tendon while competing on the reality-TV program “Dancing with the Stars.” Walsh, 33, gave birth to a son, Joey, in 2009, and another son, Sundance, in 2010.
The defending champs didn’t resume playing together until 2011, and while they still were one of the world’s best teams, they were no longer THE best team. The pair that once boasted a 112-match entered London as the No. 3 seed, and some observers didn’t think they’d reach the finals, especially after they dropped a set for the first time in an earlier match against an Austrian pair.
But tonight, after dispatching their first six opponents in London, Walsh and May-Treanor stood just one match away from an unprecedented three-peat.
Opponents Ross, 30, and Kessy, 35, started playing together in 2007, successfully transitioning from the indoor game where they both starred at the University of Southern California.
They’ve been playing in the shadow of May-Treanor and Walsh for years. But tonight, they had a chance to show America — and the world — how good they really are.
With or without gold, May-Treanor said she plans to walk away from Olympic volleyball after London. Will a third straight championship make her farewell perfect?
Well, the gold medal game – played Wednesday night at 9 p.m. London time – followed the storybook ending many fans were hoping for. Walsh and May-Treanor looked awesome as they won the match and took home an unprecedented gold medal – their third – in the event. Of the five gold medals handed out since beach volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1996, May-Treanor and Walsh have won three of them. Another amazing performance; another historic match.
Did you watch?