ATHENS, Greece -- America's two beach volleyball duos won
Olympic quarterfinal matches Sunday to set up a showdown for a
berth in the gold-medal match.
Fourth-ranked Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs defeated the
eighth-ranked German pair of Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau 21-17,
21-17 before top-seeded Misty May and Kerri Walsh ousted No. 16
Guylaine Dumont and Annie Martin of Canada 21-19, 21-14.
"We have been wanting to play them for a long time. We know
they've got a lot more pressure on them" Youngs said of her
friendly American rivals.
"I'm so proud of both of our teams for getting this far,"
Walsh said. "But we want to come out on top tomorrow."
McPeak and Youngs have been the top team in the world this
summer, with six wins and 13 top-10 finishes. May and Walsh were
the best before that, winning 90 consecutive matches and 15
straight events until May injured her abdominal muscle.
May and Walsh have won 16 of 18 meetings in the series,
including the last 13. McPeak said she and Youngs are ready for the
"We've lost to them a bunch, but a lot of times because we
haven't played our best volleyball," said McPeak, the sport's
winningest female player. "We've really hit our stride this summer
and we haven't been able to face that team when we're at our
strengths. I'm looking forward to it."
Earlier Sunday, 12th-seeded Dax Holdren and Stein Metzger lost
to fifth-seeded Swiss Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel 21-16,
21-19, ending U.S. hopes of a third straight gold medal on the
Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes won the first Olympic beach
tournament in 1996 and Dain Blanton and Eric Fonoimoana captured
the gold in 2000.
"It's a bummer," Metzger said. "But in a few hours, I'll
recover and I'll go enjoy Athens."
On match point, Metzger made a desperate dive, but couldn't
reach a Kobel spike that Holdren tipped at the net. The Americans
embraced at the end, discouraged with their performance, but
gratified by their unlikely run.
"We had the best time of our lives and we probably shouldn't
have even been here," Holdren said.
A year ago, the two were dumped by their partners within hours
of each other. They decided to team up, even though their 6-foot-3
frames and similar playing styles made them less-than-ideal
"We played as hard we could. It just didn't happen for us
today," Holdren said.
Tournament officials said the temperature of the sand during the
match was 107 degrees.
The sweltering heat drained both teams mentally and physically.
Early in the second set, the teams played a rally that lasted
nearly a minute -- a marathon in beach volleyball. When Kobel ended
the point with a spike to open sand, all four players collapsed in
the sand, exhausted.
"We killed each other," Heuscher said. "It's impossible to
play in this heat."
McPeak and Youngs controlled their quarterfinal match from the
start, while May and Walsh struggled early. Dumont and Martin led
18-17 in the opening set before the 6-foot-3 Walsh put away
consecutive spikes to start a clinching 4-1 spurt. The Americans
never trailed in the second set.
May and Walsh are the only team -- men's or women's -- which
hasn't dropped a set in Athens. They haven't lost a set to McPeak
and Youngs since August 2003, a span of seven matches.
"Now it's 0-0," May said. "Those matches don't count. Kerri
and I just need to concentrate on what we do on our side, and
everything will fall into place."
In other quarterfinals Sunday:
Second-seeded Brazilians Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar defeated
third-seeded Brazilians Ana Paula Connelly and Sandra Pires 15-21,
Australians Julien Prosser and Mark Williams defeated Germans
Christoph Dieckmann and Andreas Scheuerpflug 16-21, 21-19, 15-10.
Top-ranked Brazilians Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos had a
surprisingly easy time beating third-seeded Swiss brothers Martin
and Paul Laciga 21-13, 21-16.
Fifth-seeded Australians Natalie Cook and Nicole Sanderson, of
Australia, defeated Italians Daniela Gattelli and Lucilla Perrotta
21-16, 14-21, 15-12. Cook is looking for an unprecedented third
straight beach medal after winning a bronze in 1996 and a gold in
2000 with former partner Kerri Pottharst.
Spain's Javier Bosma and Pablo Herrera, seeded 15th, outlasted
20th-seeded Canadians John Child and Mark Heese 22-24, 21-19,