POSTED: 11:19 a.m. HST, Aug 7, 2012
LONDON >> It's an all-American final in the Olympic women's beach volleyball tournament.
Shortly after Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor reached their third consecutive gold medal game, the other U.S. women's team of April Ross and Jennifer Kessy reached the final by beating top-seeded and reigning world champion Brazil.
Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor beat China 22-20, 22-20. Ross and Kessy beat Juliana and Larissa 15-21, 21-19, 15-12.
The final is Wednesday night.
The Chinese team of Xue Chen and Zhang Xi will play Brazil for the bronze medal.
It was the 20th straight Olympic victory for May-Treanor and Walsh.
"We just defeated the best team in the world for the past year. These Chinese women are great athletes," Walsh Jennings said over the stadium sound system after the win. "We know we have this in us. We've just got to go execute."
Earlier Tuesday, Brazil's Emanuel and Alison defeated Latvia to advance to the men's gold medal game. They will meet the winner of the last match, between the Netherlands and Germany.
May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings had never lost an Olympic set before last week, when they beat Austria 2-1 in pool play. But they gave up the first three points of the semifinal, fell behind 13-8 and didn't hold their first lead until 17-16 of 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 Americans held a slim lead most of the second, 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 go under the net, delicately bumping it over as she slid.
China saved one match point, but May-Treanor fisted one to the back line to set up another, 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 — a third straight medal for Emanuel.