Rome, Italy, June 14, 2012 – Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh found their best form to reach the knockout stages at the smart Grand Slam, Rome with three wins from three in the pool stages.
Misty May-Treanor (left) and Kerri Walsh are back in Rome after winning FIVB World Championship silver at the Foro Italico in 2011
On Thursday the double Olympic champions beat Brazil’s Angela Vieira and Liliane Maestrini 21-14, 21-12.
They then followed that result up with a 21-10, 21-18 win against Australian duo Louise Bawden and Becchara Palmer that ensures they finish top of Pool F.
“It feels good, it is a fun tournament and a great venue,” May-Treanor said. “We had to play some tough teams that we haven’t faced before.
“We faced Lili and Angela and beat them today and then had to play Australia after. They are a very physical team and we had to move them about and force them to do something they don’t like.”
Later in the year May-Treanor and Walsh are hoping to defend their two Olympic golds from Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
They began 2012 slowly and didn’t finish on the podium until they won silver at the Moscow Grand Slam earlier this week, their fourth FIVB SWATCH World Tour competition of the year.
“The first three tournaments of the year we were finding our rhythm,” May-Treanor said. “But the world of beach volleyball is so physical, it’s tough and I love the way it has grown. That’s what I want to see. Now there is so much parity in both women’s and men’s.”
Switzerland’s Nadine Zumkehr and Simone Kuhn kept up their impressive start in the main draw. They fought back from losing the opening set to beat local favourites Marta Menegatti and Greta Cicolari 16-21, 21- 16, 17-15 to top Pool E.
As well as beating the fifth seeds they had to overcome a partisan Rome crowd who were hoping to cheer Menegatti and Cicolari to victory.
“I think it is nice to have an atmosphere, even if it is more for your opponents,” Zumkehr said. “I like to play with people are out there and it was fun playing there.
“It was a really tough win and a little lucky too because they were leading, but it was a really important win because we top the pool and are already in the top 10. I hope the tournament goes on like this.”
Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger caused the big upset of the day when they defeated FIVB world champions Larissa and Juliana on the court where they won their world crown in Rome a year ago.
They recovered from losing the first set and finished top of Pool B following their 22-20, 25-27, 15-8 victory.
The smart Grand Slam, Rome is the sixth tournament on the women’s FIVB SWATCH World Tour, which features 12 events and culminates with the Bangsaen Thailand Open powered by PTT in October.
Rome is the last tournament in which world ranking points count towards qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games and the winning team will leave with a prize of $43,000. Both the women’s and men’s finals take place on Sunday, June 17.