Jon Ackerman, NBC Olympics
LONDON — It actually happened. The possibility was always there, but so many things had to fall into place for it to become reality. They all happened.
Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings will face compatriots Jen Kessy and April Ross for the Olympic gold medal in London. Wednesday marks the first all-American women’s final in Olympic history.
This was always the goal for both duos, and when they earned the No. 3 (May-Treanor/Walsh Jennings) and 4 (Kessy/Ross) seeds through the Olympic qualifying process, it became a little more possible. If both teams won their groups, they’d keep those seeds for the elimination rounds and be on opposite sides of the bracket. Both tandems went 3-0 in pool play.
Then they just had to keep winning. Both did, but so did the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds. To reach the gold-medal match, both U.S. pairs would have to knock off the two best teams in the world: No. 1 Larissa Franca and Juliana Felisberta Silva of Brazil and No. 2 Xue Chen and Zhang Xi of China.
On Tuesday, May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings took care of the Chinese, and hours later, Kessy and Ross stunned the Brazilians.
“We’ve been saying it and we’re all staying at the same hotel,” Kessy said. “We have this little area that we all eat in and everyone keeps saying, ‘USA-USA final. USA-USA final.’ It’s sunk in and it’s happening. It’s crazy.”
After 11 years and two Olympic gold medals together, May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings will play their final match together (May-Treanor is retiring after the Games) and try to win an unprecedented third gold medal against the team they’ve faced more than any other still playing.
After six years and one world championship together, Kessy and Ross will cap their Olympic debut against the team to which every U.S. women’s duo will always be compared.
The numbers: May-Treanor/Walsh Jennings lead the all-time international series 11-2, and are 27-5 overall. Wednesday marks the first time they’ve met for a gold medal in international play, but they did battle three times in finals on the AVP Tour.
“We are friends,” Kessy said. “We’ve known each other since high school or earlier. We aren’t best friends, we aren’t buddy-buddy, we’re not going to be. But we have a lot of respect for each other. I can’t wait to play them.”
The defending champs didn’t know who they’d face after winning their semifinal, but May-Treanor alluded to who she’d like to face in the final match of her career.
“We’ll see who we play (Wednesday) but it’d nice to have an all-American final,” she said.
It will happen.
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