Walsh-May: nearly unbeatable
RENO – Mainstream sports viewers perceive Tiger Woods and Roger Federer as the most dominant athletes in the world.
But beach volleyball followers know better. Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor preside over the sand better than Pamela Anderson ever did in “Baywatch.”
The 2004 Summer Olympic gold medalists lose about as often as Bill Gates or the De La Salle High School football team. Walsh and May-Treanor will take a 32-match winning streak into the $200,000 AVP Lake Tahoe Best of the Beach tournament today through Sunday at MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa in Stateline.
“They are doing more than anybody has ever done in any sport,” said Casey Jennings, a four-time winner on tour over the past three seasons. “Not to say that they are carrying the tour, but it’s very special what they are doing.”
Walsh and May-Treanor have combined to win 12 of 14 tournaments in 2006 and in the process compiled a nearly flawless 77-3 record for the season. Last week, it didn’t matter that Walsh was partnered with different players in the Gods and Godesses of the Beach in Las Vegas because she still came away with the title.
Since joining forces in 2003, Walsh and May-Treanor have won 37 of the 44 tournaments they have entered and surpassed $1 million in earnings, including international events.
“They are the best in the world,” said Suzanne Stonebarger, a former University of Nevada player whose team is seeded eighth for this event. “They are the role models on the AVP and we want to live up to their expectations. We feel privileged to have them on our tour and be able to compete with them every weekend.”
So what does it take to beat the world’s best beach pair? Walsh said keeping unforced errors to a minimum is a must.
“(The teams that beat us) serve tough and make us work for every point,” said the 28-year-old Walsh, who was one of several players attending an AVP press conference on Wednesday in Reno. “A lot of teams throw everything at us, but when they do that they make a lot of mistakes.”
Only Rachel Wacholder-Elaine Youngs (twice) and Annett Davis-Jenny Johnson Jordan have beaten the queens of the beach in 2006. Wacholder, however, has a new partner – Jennifer Boss – now.
Stonebarger and partner Michelle More, also a Wolf Pack alum, won’t have to wait long to compete with their idols. They’ll meet in a first-round match today at 10:40 a.m. in a double-elimination format limited to the top eight men’s and women’s teams. The former Wolf Pack players lost two matches to Walsh and May-Treanor this season, with their closest game being 21-15.
Still, Walsh is very respectful of their emerging talent.
“They are the next generation of young girls coming up from college. They’re role models for the next generation and they are doing very well,” Walsh said.
AVP is offering a 2-for-1 ticket special to locals within a 60-mile radius today and Friday. Ticket prices range from $20 to $75.
What: AVP Lake Tahoe Best of the Beach tournament
When: Today through Sunday
Where: MontBleu Resort Casino Sports Pavilion, Stateline
Cost: $20 to $75
Note: For Real Time Scores and up-to-date information, log onto tahoedailytribune.com throughout the day.
9:30 a.m. – Lambert/Metzger (1) v. Stolfus/Wachtfogul (8)
10:40 a.m. – May-Treanor/Walsh (1) v. Stonebarger/More (8)
11:50 a.m. – Fuerbringer/Jennings (5) v. Holdren/Scott (4)
1 p.m. – Davis/Jordan (5) v. Branagh/McPeak (4)
2:10 p.m. – Gibb/Rosenthal (3) v. Hyden/Nygaard (6)
3:20 p.m. – DeNecochea/Leibl (3) v. Amaral/Minello (6)
4:30 p.m. – Lucena/Rooney (7) v. Dalhausser/Rogers (2)
5:40 p.m. – Dodd/Fontana (7) v. Boss/Wacholder (2)
9:30 a.m-2pm – Men’s and Women’s 7th place matches
2:10 p.m.-6:30pm – Men’s and Women’s Winner’s Bracket Semifinals
9:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. – Men’s and Women’s 5th place matches
2:10 p.m.-6:30 p.m. – Men’s and Women’s Semifinals
11:30 a.m. – Men’s & Women’s 3rd place matches
2 p.m. – Men’s Final
3:30 p.m. – Women’s Final
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