2012 Olympics | July 27 - August 12
Posted: Tuesday August 7, 2012 1:57PM ; Updated: Tuesday August 7, 2012 8:14PM

Two U.S. teams to play for women's beach volleyball gold medal

Story Highlights

Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh defeated China to advance to gold medal game

In other semi, April Ross, Jennifer Kessy upset Brazil to also advance to final

The all-American women's beach volleyball final is Wednesday (4 p.m. ET)

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Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh
Their win over China marked the 20th straight Olympic victory for Misty May-Treanor (right) and Kerri Walsh.
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

LONDON (AP) -- In their first Olympics, April Ross and Jennifer Kessy will play for the gold medal in an all-American beach volleyball final.

In their final Olympics together, Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor are playing for something more.

"We want to seal the deal that we're the best team that's ever happened," Walsh Jennings said Tuesday night after the two-time gold medalists advanced to their third consecutive Olympic final with a 22-20, 22-20 victory over China. "I want to win tomorrow for us. ... This will be our last match together, so we want to go out on top."

A few hours later, Kessy and Ross beat the top-seeded Brazilians in a persistent rain to join their fellow Californians in Wednesday night's gold medal game. Prince Harry is expected to attend, following prime minister David Cameron by one night to the stands at Horse Guards Parade, which has also hosted such luminaries as Bill Gates, Prince Albert of Monaco, London Mayor Boris Johnson and a handful of NBA stars from the U.S. men's basketball team.

"I can't believe it. I only let myself picture it in my dreams," Ross said. "I never really expected it. I knew that we could do it, but the competition in the final four is so big."

Ross and Kessy rallied from a first-set loss and a four-point deficit in the second to beat reigning world champions Juliana and Larissa 15-21, 21-19, 15-12. The Brazilians will play in the third-place game against China's Xue Chen and Zhang Xi, who are trying to repeat their bronze medal finish from Beijing.

Despite a medal shutout by the American men, the United States has clinched multiple beach volleyball medals for the fourth time in five Olympics since it became a recognized sport in 1996.

"This has been everyone's goal since the beginning: to get the two U.S. teams in the final together," Kessy said. "I can't believe we're going to be on that podium - either gold or silver. It hasn't sunk in for me yet, probably because our job isn't done."

Already the most-decorated team in the brief history of Olympic beach volleyball, Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor are also guaranteed at least a silver medal. No one - man or woman - had ever won two beach volleyball gold medals before they became repeat champions in Beijing.

"I had a picture in my head at the beginning of the season of how I wanted us to play, and we're living that picture," Walsh Jennings said. "But it's not over yet."

Earlier Tuesday, Brazil's Emanuel and Alison defeated Latvia to advance to the men's gold medal game. They will meet the German team of Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann, who beat Reinder Nummerdor and Rich Schuil of the Netherlands 21-14, 21-16 in the final match of a rain-soaked night.

"They have been the most dominant team on the tour the last 2 1/2 years. I can talk positive about this team for a half-hour," Brink said, referring to the Brazilians. "Emanuel is a legend, and he's still playing at a high level."

Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor won gold medals in Athens and Beijing without ever losing a match - in their first two Olympics, they never even lost a set - and they ran their unbeaten streak to 20 in a row with a victory Tuesday. But they gave up the first three points of the semifinal and fell behind 13-7 in the first set.

China saved two set points before Xue put one into the net tape to give the first set to the Americans.

The U.S. team held a slim advance most of the second set, but China took the lead 17-16 and forced the Americans to take a timeout. Trailing 19-18, May-Treanor ran far behind the end line to retrieve an errant pass and bumped it toward the net - too close - forcing Walsh Jennings to slide under the net, delicately bumping the ball over and to an unoccupied area on the Chinese side of the court.

May-Treanor, who is retiring from international play after the Olympics, said she overshot it.

"They're a great team. They make you do crazy stuff like that," Walsh Jennings said. "That was just funky. Misty ran down the ball and I think I got a little lucky on that one. But you need luck and I think you create your own luck, and that's what you get when you don't give up. But I can't take real credit for that. That's not skill."

May-Treanor fisted one to the back line to set up a match point, then Walsh Jennings' block fell to the sand and she leapt into the air to celebrate.

In the early men's semifinal, the reigning world champions from Brazil beat Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins 21-15, 22-20 to clinch no worse than silver. It is Emanuel's third straight medal, but a first for Alison.

"I have been dreaming about this since I was a child," Alison said. "Today I can finally say I am an Olympic athlete with a medal. But I am still dreaming about the gold."

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
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