B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
BEIJING – A young team from Belgium almost spoiled Kerri Walsh’s 30th birthday party on Friday.
But Walsh (Saratoga, Calif.) put out their candles with 23 kills and five blocks as she and U.S. teammate Misty May-Treanor (Costa Mesa, Calif.) defeated Belgium’s Liesbet van Breedam and Liesbeth Mouha 24-22, 21-10 on Friday at the Olympic beach volleyball tournament in Chaoyang Park.
The win qualifies May-Treanor and Walsh for the women’s quarterfinals, which will be played Aug. 17. They will play the winner of the match between Brazil’s Ana Paula Connelly and Larissa Franca and Germany’s Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau, which will be played at 9 p.m. on Friday.
The Belgian team advanced to the Round of 16 by winning Thursday night’s “Lucky Losers” tournament for the top four teams that finished third in their pools.
But they looked like anything but losers in the first set as they used strong play at the net to keep May-Treanor and Walsh off balance.
“No one has anything to lose when they play against us,” May-Treanor said. “We have a big target on our backs and it seems to bring out the best in those who play us. No one said it was going to be easy.
The Belgium team scrapped its way to a 13-9 lead and maintained a three-point advantage when I reached set point at 20-17. But the U.S. team was not ready to give up and three May-Treanor kills in a row tied the score at 20-20.
Mouha used a kill to give Belgium its fourth set point at 21-20, but Walsh tied the score at 21-21 with a kill. Another Mouha kill gave Belgium its fifth set point, but May-Treanor had a kill to tie the score yet again at 22-22.
May-Treanor and Walsh reached their first set point at 23-22 when Mouha hit the ball into the net. Van Breedam followed with a hitting error to give May-Treanor and Walsh the set victory.
The second set looked much more typical for May-Treanor and Walsh a they jumped to a 6-2 lead. Leading 9-5, Walsh got the serve and went on a 7-0 run to essentially put away the match.
“It’s a great way to celebrate my birthday,” Walsh said. “I felt really good, but this is just the first half. The second half will be after the gold medal match.”
May-Treanor finished the match with 10 kills and six digs.
Aug. 10: Walsh/May-Treanor USA  def. Teru Saiki/Kusuhara JPN , 2-0 (21-12, 21-15) 0:33
Aug. 12: Walsh/May-Treanor USA  def. Fernandez Grasset/Larrea Peraza CUB , 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) 0:35
Aug. 14: Walsh/May-Treanor USA  def. Nila/Ingrid NOR , 2-0 (21-12, 21-15) 0:37
Round of 16
Aug. 15: Walsh/May-Treanor USA  def. van Breedam/Mouha , 2-0 (24-22, 21-10) 0:38
Time TBD: Walsh/May-Treanor USA  vs. Ana Paula-Larissa BRA  or Pohl-Rau GER