The tears shed from Italy's Marta Menegatti as she lost her composure during the beach volleyball Olympic quarterfinals Sunday against Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh tells the story of the United States teams' dominance.
"I don't want to let our opponents breathe. I don't want to give them an edge. I don't want them to feel comfortable for one second out there," May-Treanor said in an interview with NBC Sunday night after the win. "Crush you, yes," she said. "Not your soul. Just you, on the court."
Though they're undoubtedly the most dominant beach volleyball team in the history of the Olympics, some questioned whether the pair of May-Treanor and Walsh could keep up their dominance and capture a third consecutive gold medal—especially after their recent defeats.
The quarterfinal win by May-Treanor and Walsh in straight sets over Italy's Greta Cicolari and Menegatti avenged a straight set loss earlier this year during the Moscow Grand Slam.
They now have a chance in the semifinals to avenge another loss that happened in the finals of that same Moscow tournament to the Chinese pair of Xue Chen and Zhang Xi.
Chen and Xi have beaten the US duo three consecutive times, but May-Treanor and Walsh have become a different team since that loss in Moscow.
"I think we're a different team. We sold the old team and we bought a new team," May-Treanor said in an interview with Jimmy Golen of the Associated Press.
Chen and Xi have not been exactly dominant in their London campaign so far. They dropped their first game of the tournament 2-1 to the Russian team of Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova, and narrowly escaped with a win over the Swedish team, winning in three sets.
However, they did pick up their play in the quarterfinals, disposing of the Austrian team that took a set from May-Treanor and Walsh earlier in the tournament in straight sets.
The loss to the Austrian team is the only blemish on the two-time Olympic champions perfect record at the games, ever. They dropped their first Olympic set ever, 21-17, in the final game of the round-robin against the Austrian team, made up of sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger.
May-Treanor and Walsh came out with a vengeance in the second set after their historic loss. They won 21-8 and then put the game away with a 15-10 third set.
"I was furious," Walsh said afterward. "It's still with me. I want to go to the practice court and fix it."
The main opposition standing in the way of May-Treanor and Walsh is the Brazilian duo of Larissa Franca and Juliana Felisberta Silva. They have not dropped a set thus far in the Olympics and face the other U.S. team of Jen Kessy and April Ross in the semifinals.
The U.S. team of Kessy and Ross have faced the Brazilian team 23 times, only winning four of those matchups.
The ideal situation for the United States is if both pairs of Kessy and Ross and May-Treanor and Walsh find a way to make it to the finals, but it is more than likely that May-Treanor and Walsh will see the Brazilian duo standing in their way of the gold.
The Brazilians had their hopes of Olympic gold dashed in Beijing when Silva had to pull out with a knee injury. They will be a lot to handle, but they are a familiar opponent of May-Treanor and Walsh.
The two teams most recently met up at the 2011 World Championships, where the Brazilians took home the title in three sets (17-21, 21-13, 14-16).
There is obvious mutual respect from the teams, and the Brazilians know that May-Treanor and Walsh are legends of the sport.
"Kerri and Misty are not just any team. This is the best team in beach volleyball history. My biggest dream is to be in the final against them," Silva said.
While the Chinese and Brazilian teams have given the legendary US duo some headaches in recent tournaments, make no mistake—it will be May-Treanor and Walsh on the top of the podium August 8 after the final is over.
The U.S. team's determination to get better after every setback is what has kept them on top for over a decade in the Olympics, and will be the main reason they will capture their third consecutive Olympic gold medal in London.
The semifinals take place Tuesday, August 7, and the final is the following day.
Do you think Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings are the favorites to capture a third consecutive gold?
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