|Rhodes, Greece, May 23, 2004 - Kerri Walsh and Misty May of the USA are Hellas Open champions after a 2-0 victory over compatriots Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs in the final of the Swatch - FIVB World Tour tournament in Greece. A tight first set was followed by an awesome display of power and skill by the world's top team who ran out 2-0 (21-17, 21-13) winners to take gold for the first time in Rhodes.
During the first set of this final an upset looked possible as team Walsh-May made several errors while their opponents, McPeak-Youngs appeared strong and determined. However, calling on the vast experince the team has gained over the past three years playing together, Walsh and May slowly began pulling their game together and eventually forged ahead in the opener before scoring a 21-17 win.
Things were a lot different in the second set as McPeak and Youngs buckled under the power and relentless movement of their counterparts and they collapsed to a 21-13 loss.
"We're so happy to finally get that monkey off our backs," a delighted Walsh enthused post match. "We have been coming here for the past couple of years and have never played well and never won the tournament. You know, in these finals we didn't play particularly well but tonight we played a wonderful team and we pulled it out and for that I'm very proud."
Refering to the close first set, Walsh noted, Misty and I made some errors that we don't normally make. I didn't set her very well and I set a couple of balls over the net and that's very uncharacteristic of us. But then the roles reversed and they started making some errors and you can't do that against the better teams. I'm so excited because Misty and i know we can play very good Beach Volleyball and I think we can get much, much better. We just need to take care of our bodies and our minds and really get excited for athens."
May was also thrilled with the triumph, especially as she had been suffering with the flu throughout this tournament. "I feel good now," she said with a smile. "I am in a lot better condition than I was during the semi'final. It was fun playing at night, I thought it would be a lot colder but once we started going it was fine. It was a tough game. We battle them (McPeak and Youngs) back home all the time. They put a lot of pressure on us but we dug deep and did what we needed to do to win."
In Sunday's third place match, Adriana Behar and Shelda of Brazil collected the bronze with a 2-1 (23-25, 21-16, 15-11) win over the third team from the USA to reach the semis, Annett Davis and Jennifer Jordan.