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Walsh, May-Treanor reach beach volleyball final


AP Sports Writer

Updated August 7, 2012

(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

LONDON (AP) With or without gold, Misty May-Treanor plans to walk away from beach volleyball for good after the Olympics. A third straight championship would make the farewell perfect.

May-Treanor and partner Kerri Walsh Jennings will go for one last title together Wednesday night after winning all but one set during their three Olympics as a pair.

"It's hard to see how the time's going," the 35-year-old May-Treanor said. "It's like, 'OK, the final's already here.' I think I'm already kind of in la-la land, focusing on tomorrow, like, 'OK, you've got to get iced up, a lot of rest.' But I'm very happy."

The Americans are wrapping up this special tournament at Horse Guards Parade following a two-week London Games run in which they were determined to enjoy themselves at their last Olympics as a tandem. May-Treanor will retire, while Walsh Jennings plans to keep playing internationally.

They held off Beijing bronze medalists Xue Chen and Zhang Xi of China 22-20, 22-20 on Tuesday, and will star in an all-American final.

The No. 2 U.S. team of April Ross and Jennifer Kessy rallied from one set down in a steady rain to stun reigning world champions Juliana and Larissa of Brazil in a three-set night semifinal. They fell to the sand and embraced.

"I've got to let this sink in for a half-hour," Ross said. "I can't believe we're in this position. We've worked so hard for it. You have no guarantee this is going to happen. ... We expect to win it."

Sure, May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings were cheering for their fellow Americans, but they really weren't too concerned about their opponent in the final.

Before their victory Tuesday, May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings ran onto the sand arm in arm during pregame introductions on a rainy, cool day in Central London. Afterward, May-Treanor signed volleyballs and tossed them into the stands as souvenirs for a few fortunate fans.

On the men's side, Brazilians Emanuel and Alison advanced to the final Thursday. Emanuel won gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics while playing with Ricardo, but the pair settled for bronze in Beijing before finding new, younger partners.

Also on Wednesday, Sanya Richards-Ross of the U.S. goes for gold in the 200 meters to highlight a busy day on the track at Olympic Stadium. She won the 400 meters Sunday.

Americans Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter, and Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce - already the Olympic 100-meter champion - are also running in the 200.

They'll be joined by Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica, the two-time defending Olympic 200 champion. She could become the first woman to win three straight Olympic golds in the event.

Richards-Ross outran Fraser-Pryce to win their semifinal heat Tuesday night in 22.30 seconds.

At beach volleyball, May-Treanor might have gold in mind, but she knows it is no sure thing.

"We'll go back and refocus for tomorrow," she said. "Kerri and I have a goal, and we want it, and we see it daily."

They got quite a test in the semis, too, trailing 3-0 in the opening set, then rallying back from down 13-7 and taking their first lead of the match at 17-16. China saved two set points in the opener.

The perfectionist Americans had a frustrating moment last Wednesday during pool play. Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor lost the first set to Austrian sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger before bouncing back for a 17-21, 21-8, 15-10 victory.

That's the only set the two have dropped in three Olympics during a 20-match winning streak.

Walsh Jennings won't even allow herself to think about the emotions that will come once they're through.

"No, I don't," Walsh Jennings said. "I'm focused on our goal, and our goal is to enjoy every second of this, which we're doing, and our other goal is to win a gold medal. And after that, we'll see how it goes."

As they walked off the Olympic sand for the second-to-last time, Walsh Jennings raised both arms to the cheering crowd.

"We know we have this in us," Walsh Jennings said, "we've just got to go execute."


NBC Wednesday Olympic prime time schedule:

8 p.m.-11:05 p.m. (EDT/PDT)

Track and Field: gold medal finals in men's 110m hurdles, women's 200m, women's 400m hurdles, women's long jump. Women's diving: platform qualifying. Women's beach volleyball: gold medal final.

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