Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - August 10, 2012

The Gold Standard remains with American women

Walsh Jennings and May Treanor earn third straight Olympic title

If one didn't know any better, the way Stanford grad Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor celebrated their third Olympic gold medal in women's beach volleyball reminded you of a couple of teenagers at a rock concert.

They were just reminding us that Olympic fervor is doing well, thank you, and then even the most experienced of all beach volleyball players can still act like kids in sand.

"It doesn't feel real, Walsh said. "I am scared that I might wake up tomorrow and discover that we have to replay that match. It didn't feel like that last time."

Extending their Olympic winning streak to 21 matches and improving to 42-1 in sets, Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor beat fellow Americans Jennifer Kessy and April Ross 21-16, 21-16 on Wednesday in London for the gold medal.

"It's a dream come true," said Walsh, who plans on continuing her beach volleyball career. "To win, you have to have the mindset to win."

Kessy and Ross were in their first Olympic competition.

"It is one thing to play an Olympic final and another to play one with people you know so well," Walsh said. "It ups the stress levels and anxiety levels. I was more nervous for that match than any other."

The celebration began when the two-time defending champions fell to their knees and hugged as Ross' final serve went long on match point. Then it turned viral.

The Athens, Beijing and now London gold medalists remained unbeaten through three Olympiads.

It was the Olympic farewell for May-Treanor, who has said she would like to have children.

May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings, three-time FIVB SWATCH World Champions (2003, 2005, 2007) leave with an unparalleled Olympic record of 21 consecutive match wins without a loss (7-0 this year) and a 42-1 won-loss record in Olympic sets, led this year's Games as a team in blocks with 25 and digs with 151.

Individually, May-Treanor led in digs with 107 and was tied for second in points with 125 while Walsh led the Olympics with 24 blocks.

"They are the best team of all-time," said Kessy, "and it doesn't hurt too bad to be second to them."

Men's water polo

The U.S. men's water polo team season came to an abrupt end Wednesday in the quarterfinal of the 2012 London Olympic.

This time the Americans, led by Stanford grads Tony Azevedo, Peter Varellas, Peter Hudnut and Layne Beaubien, won't get the chance to appear in a medal game after dropping an 8-2 decision to Croatia.

"I'm really searching for answers," U.S. center forward Ryan Bailey said. "We had a great training, we've been together for seven to eight months training, just ourselves, getting in great shape. Physically we're fantastic, best we've ever been. And then we came out and kind of laid an egg in some of these games. I have no excuses.

Croatia put an early end to the Americans' Olympic campaign with a sterling performance at both ends of the pool.

"We came into this Olympics wanting and thinking that we would win a medal, and we really haven't performed. I don't take anything away from Croatia, those guys played their butts off and played great defense and completely shut us down on six-on-five. They're a great team, but we just didn't have it today."

The Americans didn't have it really any day at the London Olympics. Other than an opening 8-7 win against Montenegro, a veteran U.S. team that boasts 10 players from the 2008 squad never really showed up in London, struggling defensively and sputtering in big games offensively.

"We came out hard, we played hard, I can't fault the effort out there. It's just our shots weren't falling and sometimes that's how it goes," Bailey said. "You hope it's not in the quarterfinals of the Olympics, but sometimes that's how it happens."

The loss brings an end to the international career of many of the Americans, Bailey's included, and starts what will likely be a bit of a rebuilding phase for the U.S. team.

"We're going to lose a number of these guys, a number of them are going to retire, and the next generation is going to have some big footprints to fill in," U.S. coach Terry Schroeder said. "We chose a team that was an older team, and thought that experience would give us our best chance, but it didn't work out."

Track and field

Stanford grad Arantxa King, competing for Bermuda, finished sixth in her qualifying group of the long jump to narrowly miss advancing to the finals.

King matched Belarus' Veronika Shutkova, each at 21-0, but King's +0.3 wind-aided jump kept her from advancing. Shutkova's reading was -0.1.

Stanford grad Jillian Camarena-Williams finished eighth in her group of the women shot put qualification round at the summer Olympics on Monday.

Camarena-Williams' best effort was 59-7 3/4, off her personal best by over six feet, and just under her 59-8 1/2 from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games where she finished 12th overall.

Synchronized swimming

Stanford junior Maria Koroleva, with partner Mary Killman, finished 11th overall Tuesday in women's pair. The scored a combined 175.670.

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