Two-time Olympic champions Kerri Walsh, left, and Misty May-Treanor kiss their medals after their victory on Thursday.
BEIJING (Aug. 21, 2008) – Yes, beach volleyball is played in the rain.
The U.S. team of Misty May-Treanor (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Kerri Walsh (Saratoga, Calif.) proved it as they won their second consecutive gold medal in women's Olympic beach volleyball (2004, 2008) by defeating top-ranked Tian Jia and Wang Jie of China 2-0 (21-18, 21-18) on Thursday in the pouring rain at the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Grounds.
A packed house of 12,200 sang, chanted and clapped in pastel-colored rain ponchos while enjoying the hard-fought match.
Although the rain makes the ball heavier and can interfere with vision, Walsh said, "The rain made it better.
"We felt like warriors out there," Walsh said. "It's an honor to win this gold medal. It was a team effort."
The second-seeded May-Treanor and Walsh have not lost a match or set in Olympic competition. May-Treanor and Walsh's match winning streak sits at 108 (international and domestic). No team, U.S. or international, has won two Olympic gold medals in beach volleyball.
"Kerri and I knew it the minute the ball dropped in Athens. We want to repeat as champions," May-Treanor said. "We want to be Olympic gold medalists again. No one has ever done it."
May-Treanor and Walsh relied on tactical attacks rather than trying to overpower the Chinese team and finished with 33 kills – led by May-Treanor with 22 – as opposed to 23 for Tian and Wang. Tian and Wang had five aces as opposed to two for the United States (one each for May-Treanor and Walsh). They also finished with six digs as opposed to five – four by May-Treanor – for the U.S.
"We were relaxed," Tian jia said. "Our opponents are much stronger than us. They've devoted a lot of time to beach volleyball and competing against them gave us a chance to practice."
Thursday's win was the sixth in eight meetings with Tian and Wang, who are the last team to defeat May-Treanor and Walsh on the FIVB World Tour. May-Treanor and Walsh have won their last 69 FIVB matches since losing 21-19 and 21-19 to Tian and Wang last year in a semifinal match at the Norwegian Grand Slam on June 30 in Stavanger.
The two teams kept the score close in the first set with China taking a lead at 6-4 before the U.S. tied it at 6-6. May-Treanor and Walsh took a lead at 12-10, but China tied it again at 13-13.
Finally, with the score tied 17-17, the U.S. scored three points in a row on three straight kills by May-Treanor to take a 20-17 lead. A kill by Wang made it 20-18, but a final kill by May-Treanor ended the set.
May-Treanor and Walsh took a 6-3 lead in the second set, but the Chinese eventually came back to tie the score at 8-8. The score stayed close until it was 18-18. A May-Treanor kill put the United States ahead by one. A Chinese attack error made it 20-18 and a Walsh kill ended the match in victory for the United States.