Stavanger, Norway, June 28, 2008 - It was about winning the “famed” Vikings swords that inspired Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh as the top-seeded Americans captured their 34th SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal by defeating Vassiliki Arvaniti and Vasso Karadassiou of Greece here Saturday afternoon on the Vaagen Harbour centre court.
After finishing fourth, second and third in their first three appearances in Stavanger, May-Treanor and Walsh scored a 21-13 and 21-14 win in 37 minutes over 12th-seeded Arvaniti and Karadassiou as the Greeks were playing in their second ConocoPhillips Grand Slam finale after winning the “coveted” Viking swords in 2005.
“That was our goal from the start of our European trip is to win three-straight SWATCH stops, especially this week’s event,” said Walsh, who also captured a 2004 bronze medal with Rachel Wacholder when May-Treanor was sidelined before the Athens Olympic Games with an adnominal strain.
“This is such a great site for Beach Volleyball with tremendous fans,” Walsh added. “We were disappointed after last year’s Stavanger event since we were defeated in the semi-finals and did not get a chance to play for the swords. Our goal was to play hard this week and to get to the top of the podium.”
By sharing the US$43,500 first-place prize at the $600,000 ConocoPhillips Grand Slam, May-Treanor and Walsh have now won the first three SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slams this season after winning the last two weeks in Berlin and Paris. Arvaniti and Karadassiou shared $29,500 for their best SWATCH finishes since winning here in 2005.
For the season, May-Treanor and Walsh have posted a 21-0 match mark by winning 42 of 45 sets. The Americans current record SWATCH FIVB World Tour winning streak is at 62 as May-Treanor and Walsh have won 75 of their last 76 international Beach Volleyball matches since the end of the 2006 season.
May-Treanor and Walsh’s only defeat during this stretch was a 21-19 and 21-19 setback to Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China in the 2007 ConocoPhillips Grand Slam semi-final. Overall, the Americans have compiled a 339-35 FIVB match mark together since forming their partnership in 2001 with an Olympic gold and three world championships to their credit.
May-Treanor, who has now won 37 SWATCH titles with the first three gold medals with Holly McPeak in 2000, was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the third-straight FIVB event. Walsh now has 36 FIVB crowns as she won 2004 SWATCH Grand Slam events with Wacholder in France and Austria.
Earlier Saturday, both teams had to win semi-final matches with May-Treanor and Walsh advancing with a 21-19 and 21-17 semi-final win in 40 minutes over eighth-seeded compatriots Jen Boss and April Ross. Arvaniti and Karadassiou posted an 18-21, 21-19 and 22-20 victory in 78 minutes over fifth-seeded Shelda Bede and Ana Paula Connelly of Brazil.
While both gold medal finalists have all but secured their spots in the Beijing 2008 Olympics, the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam third-place match featured two teams seeking to improve their qualifying point totals for the Summer Games in the Chinese capital that starts August 9.
Boss and Ross split the $23,000 third-place prize by defeating Shelda and Ana Paula 21-14 and 21-18 in 43 minutes. With the win, Boss and Ross reduced their deficit for the second American Olympic berth by 80 points as the pair has 4,240 points for their eight best SWATCH FIVB World Tour finishes since May 2007. Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs, who placed fifth this week, have 4,300 points entering the final two Beijing qualifying events in Moscow and Marseille.
With the Beijing 2008 Olympics starting in less than eight weeks, the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam is the third to last qualifying event for the Summer Games as the process runs through July 20. The SWATCH FIVB World Tour continues next week in Russia for the first stop in Moscow since 1999. After a week off for the European Championships in Hamburg, Germany, France hosts the final Beijing qualifier July 15-20 in Marseille.