American women make beach volleyball medal round
BEIJING (AP) At 38, Elaine Youngs is already the oldest women in the Beijing Olympics beach volleyball tournament.
And she's got no desire to do it again at 42.
"Three is enough for me," she said Wednesday night after she and Nicole Branagh finished the round-robin with a 3-0 record and a three-set victory over Cuba. "Can you imagine me competing at 42? I'll be in a wheelchair by then."
Beach volleyball was added to the Olympics in 1996, and three athletes at these games have competed in the event all four times: Martin Conde of Argentina, Brazil's Emanuel, and Australia's Natalie Cook.
Youngs played indoor volleyball in Atlanta and just missed qualifying for the Sydney Olympics before winning a bronze medal in Athens with Holly McPeak in 2004 Qualifying for Beijing was a two-year process, and Youngs and Branagh didn't wrap up their spot until finishing second in Moscow on July 5.
"This was a tough, tough year. We played four continents in five weeks, back and forth to the United States twice," Youngs said. "I may play a couple of international events next year, but I will not make another Olympic run."
Youngs and Branagh beat Milagros Crespo and Imara Esteves Ribalta 21-19, 13-21, 15-12 to win their pool entering the medal round. The round-robin wraps up on Thursday, followed by a draw that will place the 16 teams in a single-elimination bracket that begins on Friday.
After being dominated in the second set, the Americans took a 14-11 lead in tie-breaker. Youngs dinked the ball to the side, past a block, then blocked a spike to reach match point; Crespo fisted a ball into the open court to make it a two-point game, but Young tipped another soft shot to the sand for the clincher.
Also reaching the medal round were Americans Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, the pre-tournament favorites who lost their opener to No. 23 seed Latvia but beat Argentina on Wednesday in straight sets to finish 2-1.
But with the defense-minded Rogers leading the attack, the Americans beat Conde and Mariano Baracetti in 39 minutes and never trailed in the match.
"They were forced to serve to me because Phil is big, and they're not as big as he is," Rogers said. "I enjoy it when people serve me. In general, I enjoy the challenge. It's kind of a mano-a-mano thing."
Forced to attack because the 6-foot-9 Dalhausser was forced to pass, Rogers converted 22 of the team's 28 killshots.
"I think I'm a little too tall for them," said Dalhausser, who was left to set for his 6-foot-2 partner.
Conde and Baracetti missed the medal round when the Latvian team of Martins Plavins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs beat Sascha Heyer and Patrick Heuscher of Switzerland 21-17, 21-23, 15-13. The Latvians won the pool by virtue of their head-to-head victory over the Americans.
Also Wednesday, Renato Gomes and Jorge Terceiro of Georgia beat Morais Santos Abreu and Emanuel Fernandes of Angola 21-14, 21-13; and Martin Laciga and Jan Schnider of Switzerland beat Joerre Kjemperud and Tarjei Skarlund of Norway 21-17, 21-13.
Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil of the Netherlands beat Eric Koreng and David Klemperer of Germany 21-16, 21-16; and Brazilians Ricardo and Emanuel beat Austrailians Andrew Schacht and Joshua Slack 21-14, 21-17.
On the women's side, Cook and Tasmin Barnett improved to 3-0 while beating previously undefeated Brazilians Ana Paula and Larissa 23-21, 23-21; Georgia's Cristine Santanna and Andrezza Martins beat Russians Alexandra Shiryaeva and Natalya Uryadova 10-21, 22-20, 15-12 in a match tainted by the overtones of the war between their home countries.
China's Wang Jie and Tian Jia remained unbeaten by stopping Kathrine Maaseide and Susanne Glesnes of Norway 17-21, 21-14, 15-8; Liesbet van Breedam and Liesbeth Mouha of Belgium kept the team alive by beating Simone Kuhn and Lea Schwer of Switzerland 21-18, 21-17; and Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau of Germany beat Merel Mooren and Rebekka Kadjik of the Netherlands 21-19, 21-18.