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May-Treanor, Branagh strike gold in AVP volleyball debut

May-Treanor, Branagh strike gold in AVP volleyball debut

Misty May-Treanor and Nicole Branagh, playing together for the first time, had no trouble winning their first title.

BY PETE PELEGRIN

ppelegrin@MiamiHerald.com

It was just like the gold-medal match of the 2008 Olympics for Misty May-Treanor, even though she was playing her first tournament with new partner Nicole Branagh in the championship match of the AVP Nivea Tour Fort Lauderdale Open on Sunday afternoon.

Playing in a steady deluge of rain and whipping winds, May-Treanor and Branagh easily dispatched Angie Akers and Tyra Turner 21-14, 21-17 to win the first tournament of the AVP season.

“I love the rain,” said May-Treanor, who earned her 106th career title. “We just kept getting stronger as the tournament went on. I always saw us in the finals. It was just a matter of us getting there.”

May-Treanor is no stranger to inclement weather. She played in similar conditions in the gold-medal match in Beijing. She also said she played in snow in a Lake Tahoe tournament and in “monsoon weather” in Thailand.

However, the weather wasn’t the biggest question mark for May-Treanor. Instead, it was adjusting to a new teammate.

No longer paired with long-time partner Kerri Walsh, who is missing the season because of pregnancy, May-Treanor was a little uncertain how she would mesh with Branagh in their first tournament together.

It’s safe to say they had no problems in the Fort Lauderdale Open. May-Treanor and Branagh won all seven of their matches and never dropped a set.

“We got more confident as the tournament went along,” Branagh said. “It was a great experience for us in our first tournament playing together. We’re thrilled with the win.”

The pair, who had been practicing together since January, became the first new team to win an AVP tournament on their first try since Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs did it in 2002.

The Fort Lauderdale Open has been one of May-Treanor’s favorite tournaments. The part-time Coral Springs resident is 28-0 playing in Fort Lauderdale and has a 56-3 set record there.

Earlier in the day, May-Treanor and Branagh needed 41 minutes to defeat Priscilla Lima and Tatiana Minello in a semifinal.

The men’s final of the Fort Lauderdale Open never got under way because of the weather.

After the two men’s teams finished warming up, new AVP commissioner Mike Dodd canceled the championship match, which featured Olympic gold medalists Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers against Matt Fuerbringer and former Cooper City resident Nick Lucena.

Dodd said that with the temperature dropping and the amount of rain increasing, it was in the best interests of the athletes to cancel the match.

Dodd named the two teams co-champions of the Fort Lauderdale Open.

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