April Ross and Jennifer Boss came into the finals of the AVP's Long Beach Open with a game plan -- to stay aggressive and hammer shots.
But they failed to factor Kerri Walsh into that plan.
Walsh and partner Misty May-Treanor defeated Ross and Boss on Sunday, 21-14, 21-18, to win their 101st consecutive match and 18th straight title in their last tournament before traveling to Beijing to defend their 2004 gold medal.
"We start the match off playing like we play any other team -- going out aggressive, trying to hammer balls -- and Kerri is stuffing them," Ross said. "OK, so what do you do when she's stuffing them? You try to shoot over them. You shoot over and she's there touching every shot."
In Game 1, Ross and Boss, who played after forfeiting a prospective match against May-Treanor and Walsh on Saturday because of an injury to Ross' upper back, were able to get a few shots around Walsh to stay tied at 10-10.
Then, May-Treanor and Walsh went to work, scoring eight of the next nine points. During the stretch, May-Treanor and Walsh scored a variety of ways -- a couple of blocks and kills from Walsh and some well-placed shots from May-Treanor.
"We converted on a lot of points, which is good because they were serving really tough, so as long as we could be the ones serving the ball, I think obviously we could capitalize on that and do well," Walsh said of the run.
Walsh scored off another block to give her and May-Treanor a 21-14 win.
The second game was tied at 15-15 before a number of errors did in Ross and Boss. Boss hit it wide on the next point and Ross later served it long to give May-Treanor and Walsh an 18-17 lead. After tying it at 18-18, Boss hit a shot into the net followed by Ross missing wide in the next point. Walsh put the game and the match away on a kill to win it, 21-18.
"You try to change your game and you make mistakes and that's why they're the best team in the world," Ross said.
Ross and Boss combined for 16 errors, compared to four for May-Treanor and Walsh.
Earlier Sunday, May-Treanor and Walsh defeated Holly McPeak and Angie Akers, 21-17, 21-18, in their semifinal match on the main stadium court. After that match, the crowd filtered over to catch a back-and-forth match between Ross and Boss and the other Beijing-bound pairing of Elaine Youngs and Nicole Branagh.
Ross and Boss prevailed in a tight first game, 21-19, but were down, 18-15, in the second game before rallying for four straight points to take the lead. Youngs and Branagh eventually won, 24-22, but that didn't discourage Ross and Boss.
"We shouldn't have come back in that second game," Boss said. "They shouldn't have let us. We were down 18-15. I thought it gave us momentum going into the third game."
Ross and Boss used that momentum to race out to a 5-0 lead in Game 3. Youngs and Branagh fought back to make it 6-3. Ross and Boss captured six of the next seven points en route to a 15-6 victory.