After dropping their first-ever set as a team in Olympic competition during their previous match, there were some whispers that the queens of the beach, Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings, were a little vulnerable in their Round of 16 volleyball match.
So much for that theory.
Behind their vintage dominant play and a bit of jitters from their opponents, May and Walsh cruised into the quarterfinals by easily disposing of the Dutch team of Marleen Van Iersel and Sanne Keiser, winning 21-13 and 21-12 at London’s Horse Guards Parade on Saturday.
Even at this point in their distinguished careers (May and Walsh are chasing an unprecedented third consecutive gold medal in beach volleyball), the American ladies continue to play sparkling defense. Walsh is as imposing as they come at the net, stifling hitters with her impressive length and arm reach.
And Walsh can let it fly on the block knowing she has one of the best diggers of all time in May playing behind her. May continues to cover the sand like the American soldiers on the beaches of Normandy.
It’s ridiculous how she makes even the most difficult of digs look almost academic. The defense that a duo like Walsh and May possess definitely can get into the heads of many opponents.
That looked to be the case for the Netherlands’ 24-year-old Van Iersel. She finished the match with eight crucial hitting errors.
Giving a team like May and Walsh that many free points is athletic suicide. So after they dropped a set for the first time ever in the Olympics against an Austrian pair in the final game of round-robin play, it looks like Walsh and May are back on track in their quest for a third straight gold medal.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s going to get any easier from here on out. Next up for May and Walsh is a quarterfinal match against the upstart Italian pair of Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti.
And if the American ladies do get back to the gold-medal match, they’re likely to face the Olympics’ top-seeded team in Brazilians Larissa Franca and Juliana Felisberta Silva. But given how they steamrolled their way into the quarterfinals, it’s going to be tough to pick against May and Walsh from here on out.
They know it’s time to kick it up a notch, and so far, they certainly have.