Nov. 4, 2007
The FIVB contributed to this release
May-Treanor and Walsh Defeat Branagh and Youngs in Phuket Final
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – In an all-American, three-set battle, reigning Olympic and three-time world champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh defeated Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs on Sunday and tied the international beach volleyball mark for most team gold medals by winning the US$200,000 Phuket Thailand Open powered by ptt.
With a 2-1 (21-18, 16-21 and 15-13 win in 58 minutes over fourth-seeded Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) and Elaine Youngs (El Toro, Calif.), top-ranked May-Treanor (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Walsh (Santa Clara, Calif.) secured the $32,000 first-place prize while capturing their 31st SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal to tie the record established by Brazil’s Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede.
“This was not our best tournament of the year,” said the 29-year old Walsh, who saw her team drop three sets in the Phuket Thailand Open competition to teams from Ukraine, Brazil and the United States. “Competing against Nicole and Elaine is always tough since we have played them so many times in the last 14 months. Nicole had by far her best tournament and we are very fortunate to win today.”
The Phuket Open was the eighth FIVB match of the season for both the teams of May-Treanor and Walsh and Branagh and Youngs. This means both teams now have the minimum number of FIVB finishes required to qualify for the 2008 Olympics. May-Treanor and Walsh rank first on the Olympic list (5,780) for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour. Branagh and Youngs are the second-ranked U.S. team and sixth overall on the Beijing list with 3,700 points.
In defeating Branagh and Youngs for the fifth-straight time on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, May-Treanor and Walsh have a 15-2 edge in the series with their American rivals with both Branagh and Youngs’ victories being on the AVP Tour earlier this season. Counting both FIVB and AVP Tour wins, May-Treanor and Walsh finished the season with 20 titles for 23 events with a 129-4 match mark.
Branagh and Youngs finished the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season with three-straight podium placements. The $22,000 second-place prize for the Phuket Thailand Open silver medal their best international finish together. The Americans were playing their ninth match of the tournament on Sunday after losing in the second-round Thursday to Tyra Turner (Fort Meyers Beach, Fla.) and Rachel Wacholder (Laguna Beach, Calif.). Branagh and Youngs fought their way back through the contenders’ bracket to advance to the semifinals.
Sunday’s gold medal victory was the 41st-straight SWATCH win this season for May-Treanor and Walsh, who won seven of their eight FIVB starts this season with a 53-1 match mark and $309,500 in earnings. The Americans’ only FIVB setback was in the semifinals at the Norwegian grand slam in Stavanger where China’s Jia Tian and Jie Wang defeated them, 21-19, 21-19.
May-Treanor, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the Phuket Thailand Open, also extends her record for most women’s FIVB gold medals by a women’s player with her 34 title in 68 international Beach Volleyball starts. Three of her gold medals were with Holly McPeak in 2000. Walsh has 33 SWATCH titles in 59 FIVB events with two gold medals in 2004 with Wacholder when May-Treanor was sidelined with an abdominal strain.
Second-seeded Jian Tian and Jie Wang of China captured the bronze medal and the $16,000 third-place prize with a 21-18 and 21-15 win in 38 minutes over 14th-seeded Rieke Brink-Abeler and Hella Jurich of Germany, who were appearing in their first ever international Beach Volleyball semi-final. The Germans split $12,000 for fourth-place.
The 2008 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour is scheduled to start at the end of March with an inaugural event in Adelaine, Australia. A total of 13 women’s Olympic qualifying events are on the provisional SWATCH calendar until the qualifying period ends on July 20, 2008. The Beijing 2008 Olympic Beach Volleyball competition will be held Aug. 9-22 at the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground.
More information and photos are available on the FIVB web site at www.fivb.org/EN/BeachVolleyball/index.asp?sm=12.