BEIJING The Brazilian duo's serve whistled through the air and landed on the small patch of sand between Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.
The defending gold-medal winners looked at the patch of sand, looked at each other and then slapped palms in encouragement.
Goodbye, miscommunication. Hello, dominance.
Rather than squabble, the seemingly unstoppable duo spiked its way out of trouble Tuesday morning, recording a 21-12, 21-14 semifinal victory over Talita Antunes da Rocha and Renata Trevisan Ribeiro.
"We could get frustrated, but the wheels come off when you start to argue," May-Treanor said. "There's no point. You stop and figure it out. You talk about it instead of turning your back on your teammate."
May-Treanor and Walsh have yet to drop a set in six straight victories and have won 68 straight international matches overall. Both know all that means nothing unless they close the deal in Thursday's gold-medal match against China's Jia Tian and Jie Wang.
With Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and other members of the U.S. men's basketball team in the house at Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground, Walsh set the tone early with a left-handed spike on the match's first point.
"We came out flat against Belgium and we learned a lot from that," Walsh said. "It's important to have a fast start and we did that. We played the best team we've played so far and we played steady."
Steady is the right word for U.S. duo that has gone a calendar year without losing a match of any kind. Their last defeat was Aug. 19, 2007, on the AVP Tour in Boston.
May-Treanor and Walsh are headed for another gold-medal match, at which May-Treanor will reprise the tribute she performed both at Athens in 2004 and at this semifinal match.
May-Treanor spread some of her mother's ashes into the sand.
"I don't know if this is a finger or whatever this is, but they're out there now," she said lightheartedly. "I'll save the other half for the final. She's a world traveler. And, finally, my husband brought her urn. So there's still more to keep at home."
Perhaps alongside another gold medal.