Published August 07, 2012
| Sports Network
London, England – Jennifer Kessy tackled partner April Ross, who was already on her knees in the sand.
They'd just clinched an all-American final at the Olympic beach volleyball tournament.
Kessy and Ross upset top Brazilians Juliana and Larissa in three sets Tuesday night to set up a meeting with Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings.
May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings, the two-time reigning Olympic champions, won their semifinal earlier in the day against Xue Chen and Zhang Xi of China.
Wednesday's final at Horse Guards Parade will mark the second time in the last three Olympics that American women will win two medals in beach volleyball.
Kessy and Ross, the unlikelier pair to make it, knocked off the reigning world champion Brazilians 15-21, 21-19, 15-12, finishing the upset in the rain on a Kessy spike.
Earlier, May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings survived for a 22-20, 22-20 win over the 2008 bronze medalist Chinese team in the first semifinal.
Ross won the second set with a spike and the Americans took an early lead in the third. Ross bounced back from a serve into the net to make two key plays: a drop shot that fell out of reach for the Brazilians, and a serve she let go long to make it 9-6.
Kessy spikes made it 10-7 and 11-9, and it was 13-10 after a Ross spike hit the tape at the top of the net and dropped on the other side.
Brazil couldn't return a serve, making it 14-10, but the Brazilians saved two match points before Kessy sealed the win with a spike.
Brazil will play China for the bronze medal, also on Wednesday.
"We relaxed in the middle of the second set and that was the turning point, the reason we lost," said Juliana.
May-Treanor, who turned 35 last week, and the soon-to-be 34-year-old Walsh Jennings rallied from behind early in the first set and late in the second to beat their younger opponents under cloudy skies.
They won the final three points of the match to avoid dropping a set for the second time in a week (and the second time ever at the Olympics).
"They were playing awesome but we made it happen. I'm speechless," said May- Treanor. "I think we played as a unit, so I'm very happy. I had a picture in my head at the beginning of the season of how I wanted us to play, and we're living that picture. But it's not over yet."
They used power and finesse to pull themselves out of an early hole -- May- Treanor's dig saved a key point at the end of a long rally -- and won the first set when Zhang hit into the net.
Later, China built a 17-16 lead in the second set when Xue, 23, followed her 27-year-old partner with a spike.
The point of the match came minutes later when May-Treanor scrambled to save the ball behind the end line and Walsh Jennings tapped it over the net for a drop shot that tied the set at 19.
The Americans saved a set point at 19-20 and May-Treanor's delicate tap into the backcourt made it 21-20. Walsh Jennings won the match with a block at the net on Zhang's spike.
"We played very good, but we didn't do what we could do at the right points. We didn't play to our potential," said Xue. "It was quite hard to defend them. We need to improve on attack."
The men's semifinals were also Tuesday.
In the first match, Brazil's Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego beat Latvia's Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins in straight sets 21-15, 22-20. Germany's Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann then booked their spot in Thursday's final with a 21-14, 21-16 win over Reinder Nummerdor and Rich Schuil of the Netherlands.