The best team in women's beach volleyball history is seeking one last Olympic triumph.
Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh are the two-time defending Olympic champions in the event, and they will take the third seed into London. Since winning in Beijing, May-Treanor has torn her Achilles tendon on Dancing With the Stars and Walsh has given birth to two boys.
After a subpar FIVB season, the decorated duo got just what they needed with an event win in Gstaad, Switzerland on Saturday. While the win carries many positive implications, there are also reasons to not look into it too heavily.
May-Treanor and Walsh absolutely crushed their opponents in the final two rounds, needing just 34 minutes to dismantle Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland 21-13, 21-14. The final was even easier, with the Americans downing Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands, 21-10, 21-13 in 32 minutes.
That's an hour and six minutes to win four sets. That's ridiculous.
If you've seen May-Treanor/Walsh play in person, you've probably sensed the confidence and swagger that oozes out of them on the court. They are not overly animated or exuberant, but they are completely focused. They are intense but still manage to balance it out by looking like they're having fun.
At least that was in their heyday. Walsh has said that finding an emotional balance has been one of the biggest challenges for them since re-uniting.
"You can't be too lackadaisical and you can't be too tight," she said (via mercurynews.com).
Critics will say that the team was lucky in Gstaad since they never had to face the top-seeded teams, instead facing the tournament's fourth- and fifth-seeded pairs in the final two rounds. Kuhn and Zumkehr were the ninth-ranked Olympic team before Gstaad, and Van Iersel/Keizer were seventh. They aren't exactly the top guns.
However, such a dominating performance against those teams shows that the champs were able to find the emotional balance that allows for rolling through teams you should roll through. Much of their lower seeding heading into the Olympics is because they didn't play in as many point-earning qualifying tournaments on the FIVB tour.
Also, beating two top-10 seeds easily is still valid. We're not talking Yankees vs. Bad News Bears here.
While it's not as big as beating the top two teams would be, the Gstaad win brings nothing but confidence and positives for the defending champions.