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BEACH VOLLEYBALL

Walsh, May in Finals

September 21, 2003|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

Kerri Walsh said she was nervous, scared, something to that effect.

She didn't show it.

Walsh and Misty May, trying to show they are the top women's team in beach volleyball, advanced to today's championship with a calm, contemplative 21-11, 19-21, 15-8 semifinal victory Saturday over Australia's Natalie Cook and Nicole Sanderson at the Swatch Federation Internationale de Volleyball/Nissan Grand Slam Olympic qualifying tournament.

May and Walsh, No. 3 in the FIVB world standings mainly because they haven't played enough international tournaments, were tested in the second game but answered quickly in the third in front of about 1,000 fans at the Home Depot Center.

May, 26, and Walsh, 25, won the last two Olympic qualifying tournaments they entered and all eight tournaments they played on the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals tour, finishing 39-0 in match play on the domestic tour.

Walsh and May are playing only their seventh FIVB tournament. Their championship opponent -- Brazil's Ana Paula Connelly and Sandra Pires Tavares -- have played nine FIVB tournaments. More tournaments, in this case, means more qualifying points, although May and Walsh have a chance to gain ground today.

The U.S. didn't fare as well in the men's bracket.

Canyon Ceman and Mike Whitmarsh had a chance to make the title match but lost in the semifinals to Switzerland's Sascha Heyer and Markus Egger, 21-19, 21-18.

*

Karch Kiraly, the only three-time gold-medal winner in Olympic volleyball history, strongly hinted he would not try to make the Olympics after what he thought was a disappointing ninth-place finish with partner Brent Doble.

"I plan on being in the [NBC] booth in Athens cheering guys on," said Kiraly, who will be 43 in November. "I'd essentially rule out [playing], but the cliche says to never say never."

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