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Women's final is a Walsh wash

Ailing shoulder keeps her from playing and forfeit gives AVP title to Branagh-Youngs.

May 05, 2008|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

Maybe that wasn't such a good concept, after all.

The Assn. of Volleyball Professionals tweaked its format for the Cuervo Gold Crown this year, bringing back the top four men's and women's teams after three events for a miniature, winner-take-all tournament in Huntington Beach.

The extra day of competition Sunday proved too much for Kerri Walsh and her bothersome right shoulder. Walsh and partner Misty May-Treanor, who had won the Huntington Beach Open on the same court the day before, were forced to forfeit the championship match and a $25,000 payday to Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs.

Last season, the Cuervo Gold Crown was awarded to the top teams in the point standings after three events. Branagh and Youngs won that too, despite having just one victory, compared to two for Walsh and May-Treanor.

The AVP decided to settle things on the court this season, a decision that caused May-Treanor to raise eyebrows before the event, but even more so after Sunday. Despite having won the first three tour stops, they again missed out on the Cuervo Gold Crown.

"We were clear winners of three Gold Crown events, so I don't know why you need to have a tournament after a tournament," May-Treanor said. "That's like winning the World Series or NCAA and saying the next day, 'You have to come back and do it all over again.' "

Leonard Armato, commissioner of the AVP, agreed that the format needs further scrutiny.

"It's unfortunate the way it worked out this year," he said. "It probably had something to do with the players going all out for yesterday's final, but we'll take a look at it and certainly make it better in the future."

Walsh and May-Treanor won their morning semifinal against Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan, but Walsh said she felt "a pop" in her shoulder during Saturday's competition and the pain lingered into Sunday. Walsh had rotator-cuff surgery on the same shoulder in November.

"I thought I could push through it," she said. "I don't think I injured it, but after surgery, you take two steps forward and two steps back and this was the first step back."

On the men's side, the top-seeded team of Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers also failed to cash in a day after winning their third consecutive AVP event, losing in a morning semifinal against John Hyden and Brad Keenan. Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb then knocked off Hyden and Keenan in the championship match, 21-18, 21-16.

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dan.arritt@latimes.com

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