Without losing a single set, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States breezed into the beach volleyball final at the Beijing Olympics.
Far more than that. Dubbed as "queens of the beach", the American duo have not been defeated in a single match since last August.
The 1.75-meter May-Treanor and 1.88-meter Walsh play so solid that almost every time when the rivals launch a powerful attack and you expect the Americans to lose a point, they return the ball back, and score directly sometimes.
It's not only about techniques, but experiences as well.
The three-time Olympian May-Treanor said experiences are their advantage and they will use them to gain the upper hand over their rivals in Beijing. "Experience in beach volleyball comes into play in those big matches where fatigue sets in." said May-Treanor.
"We know where each other is going to be and where each other wants the ball. We're relentless. We keep the ball in play and let the other people make the mistakes," said Walsh, who is also for the third time at the Olympics. She played indoor volleyball in the last Games.
The combination of the pair is another factor which has contributed to their outstanding results. Men's beach volleyball legend and three-time Olympic champion of the United States Karch Kiraly also prized the partnership of May-Treanor and Walsh "the best ever".
Strong psychology is another significant weapon for the U.S. duo to perform well. "I will pretend that the crowd was cheering for us," May-Treanor said of the audience's anticipated strong support in the final at the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground on Thursday , but not for them.
The U.S. duo will face China's Tian Jia and Wang Jie in the gold medal match.
Tian and Wang said their rivals were "very strong" both in experiences and techniques and they just wanted to do their best in the final match.
The Chinese duo remained unbeaten at the Beijing Games but sometimes they had to come from behind to win a match. Their instability in performance will be meeting the hardest test in the final.
Tian and Wang, who have already made history for China whose previous best Olympics finish was ninth place, are expected to pose some threats to the defending champions with the support of thousands of home crowd but the result may still be that the American duo prolongs its current 107-match winning streak to a 108-match one.
(Xinhua News Agency August 20, 2008)