|FORTALEZA, BRAZIL, March 14, 2004 - Top-seeded Misty May and Kerri Walsh of the United States used a "strong" service game here Sunday to defeat Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar of Brazil 21-10 and 21-18 to win the Gold Medal in the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season opener.
An overflowing crowd of more than 4,000 watched Sunday's two medal matches on the Praia de Iracema centre court where lines for stadium entrance were formed at 5 a.m. to watch the action in the US$180,000 Brazilian Open.
The Americans, who have now won 34-straight matches on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, were "impressed" their play. "Except for a few mistakes at the end of the second set, we almost played a perfect game," said May. We expect to play like this every match."
The 6-3 Walsh, who poses a "big" threat at the net, felt her team's conditioning was a key. "We worked hard in the off-season and felt like we were in the best shape of any team in the tournament. We stayed patience today and made them work."
In the 37-minute match, May and Walsh scored 26 points on their serves as compared to 12 by the Brazilians. "We were aggressive and never let them in the match," said Walsh. "The key to beating them is forcing them into mistakes with aggressive play."
In the first set, May and Walsh scored the first four points and used a seven-point run to take an 11-3 lead to take control. In the second set, there were five ties and two lead changes with the Americans using a 6-0 run to take a 13-8 lead. Trailing 17-11, Shelda and Adriana used a 7-2 run to get back into the match. With the Brazilian trailing by one after scoring two points on their serve, May ended the action with two kills.
Sunday's meeting was the 18th-meeting between the two teams on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour with May and Walsh now leading 11-7 by winning the last four meetings, including the 2003 World Championships last October in Rio de Janeiro where the Americans defeated Bede and Behar in the finals (21-19 and 21-19).
With Sunday's win, May and Walsh collected their 12th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Gold Medal together. The American's shared the $27,000 first-place prize while Bede and Behar split $18,000 for the Silver Medal fiinish.