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Kessy and Ross defeat world champions to reach final
Jennifer Kessy and April Ross fought back from a set down to knock the 2011 FIVB world champions Juliana Felisberta and Larissa Franca out of the London 2012 Olympic Games and set up an all-USA gold medal match against defending Olympic champions Misty-May Treanor and Kerri Walsh on Wednesday.
The 2009 FIVB world champions defeated their successors 15-21, 21-19, 15-12 at Horse Guard’s Parade. A year ago Kessy and Ross won silver at the London 2012 Test Event.
“I hoped for this day. I’ve thought about winning this match in my dreams, but I didn’t actually picture it coming true,” Ross said.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Kessy added. “It is a great day for the US. It’s two medals for the US and hopefully we can come out and perform as we did today.”
Juliana and Larissa had to be patient to take control of the set, but when they did they quickly took control of the match by winning the first set. They appeared on course to win the second, but a well-timed timeout midway through the set appeared to allow Kessy and Ross to refocus.
When they returned to the court their serving was deeper and their setting sharper and it meant they drew level with the first set that the Brazilians had lost in the tournament. In the third set they edged in front and controlled play. Juliana and Larissa managed to save two match points, but the Americans ensured their place in the final with a powerful spike from Ross.
“I think that we had tough, tough match and we just had to battle,” Kessy said. “Tonight we looked at each other and decided to battle.”
Olympic champions into final
Walsh and May-Treanor remain line to win a third consecutive medal after they reached the gold medal match with a 22-20, 22-20 victory against Beijing 2008 bronze medallists Chen Xue and Zhang Xi.
The Chinese started the first set in determined mood and quickly went into a 3-0 lead. However, Walsh and May-Treanor maintained their composure and reeled them back in, overtook them and secured the set.
The second set followed a similar pattern and both teams saved a match point before Walsh wrapped up the win at the net.
“There’s relief, overwhelming relief, joy a little humility,” Walsh said. “I’m so proud of us. We didn’t play perfectly, we were so far from perfect, but our minds were perfect and our hearts were perfect and that is why we won.
“I think our experience absolutely helped. We have had an amazing 11 years together and experienced everything. We have a huge match tomorrow have a goal that we want to achieve.”
In London the teams were divided equally into six pools of and the teams played each other once in their group. The top two advanced to the single-elimination knockout phase that began on August 3 along with the two best third-placed teams. The remaining four third-place teams competed in playoff matches to determine which pairs filled the final two places in the 16-team elimination bracket’s first round.
Sixteen teams qualified for the Games through the Olympic Ranking which is based primarily on world tour standings. Five more joined as winners of the AVC, CAVB, CEV, CSV and NORCECA Continental Cup Finals, and two from the World Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament. Great Britain was granted a berth as hosts.
The sold-out beach volleyball competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games is being held through Aug. 9 in a purpose-built 15,000-seat stadium on the grounds of Horse Guards Parade in central London. For current information, visit www.fivb.org