Long Live The Queens


Largely lost amidst the start of the college football season, MLB’s pennant races, the U.S. Open, Hurricane Gustav and the truncated Republican National Convention was some major sports news Sunday — someone finally kicked sand in the faces of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.

For the first time in more than a year, Walsh and May, the queens of the beach, the two-time Olympic gold medalists, lost Sunday in Mason, Ohio to Elaine Youngs and Nicole Branagh. (Encores of the upset should appear on FSN regionals in the days/weeks ahead.)

The three-set defeat at the hands, digs, sets and bumps of their fellow U.S. Olympians was Misty-Kerri’s first since Aug. 18, 2007, a run of 112 matches and 19 titles that culminated in gold in Beijing. It only took Youngs-Branagh 105 minutes and a 25-23 final game (the third game is decided at 15, provided a team wins by two) the second longest match (one minute shy of tying the mark) in AVP history, to knock the crowns from the queens’ heads.  

Actually, it was a bookend repeat of sorts for Youngs-Branagh: they topped Misty-Kerri last August. Walsh-May’s mark easily spiked the 89 straight matches and 15 consecutive tourney crowns they ran off in 2004, prior to their ascension in Athens.

Looking ahead, we’ll see whether the queens can do their best Joe DiMaggio imitation. After the Yankee Clipper had his 56-game hitting streak stopped on July 17, 1941 by Cleveland Indians pitchers Al Smith and Jim Bagby, aided by a  pair of great backhand stops by third-sacker Ken Keltner, he followed with hits in 16 more contests.

The AVP’s 2008 season has four more tourneys, including Manhattan Beach, the Wimbledon of the sport on Sept. 19-21, remaining 

Should the ladies run the table during the rest of the season, another force may intervene: After the Olympics, both May and Walsh said they were interested in starting families. Those figure to be some athletic kids, May’s husband is Florida Marlins catcher Matt Treamor, while Walsh is married to fellow AVPer Casey Jennings.