-- All four of them were hoping it would come to this.
America's two beach volleyball duos won Olympic quarterfinal matches Sunday to set up a showdown for a berth in the gold medal match.
Fourth-seeded Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs defeated the eighth-seeded German pair of Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau, 21-17, 21-17, before top-seeded Misty May and Kerri Walsh ousted No. 16 Guylaine Dumont and Annie Martin, a pair of Canadians, 21-19, 21-14.
"We have been wanting to play them for a long time. We know they've got a lot more pressure on them," Youngs said of her friendly American rivals.
"I'm so proud of both of our teams for getting this far," Walsh said. "But we want to come out on top tomorrow."
McPeak and Youngs have been the top team in the world this summer, with six wins. May and Walsh were the best before that, winning 90 consecutive matches and 15 straight events until May injured an abdominal muscle.
May and Walsh have won 16 of 18 meetings against McPeak and Youngs, including the last 13. McPeak said she and Youngs are ready for the rematch.
"We've lost to them a bunch, but a lot of times because we haven't played our best volleyball," said McPeak, the sport's winningest female player. "We've really hit our stride this summer and we haven't been able to face that team when we're at our strengths. I'm looking forward to it."
Earlier Sunday, 12th-seeded Dax Holdren and Stein Metzger lost to the fifth-seeded Swiss, Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel, 21-16, 21-19, ending U.S. hopes of a third straight gold medal on the men's side.
Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes won the first Olympic beach volleyball tournament in 1996, and Dain Blanton and Eric Fonoimoana captured the gold in 2000.
"It's a bummer," Metzger said. "But in a few hours, I'll recover and I'll go enjoy Athens."
On match point, Metzger made a desperate dive but couldn't reach a Kobel spike that Holdren tipped at the net. The Americans embraced at the end, discouraged with their performance but gratified by their unlikely run.
"We had the best time of our lives and we probably shouldn't have even been here," Holdren said.
A year ago, the two were dumped by their partners within hours of each other. They decided to team up, even though their similar playing styles made them less-than-ideal partners.
They managed to qualify for Athens and got into the medal round, despite two losses in pool play. They upset fourth-seeded Germans Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann on Friday, but didn't play as well against Heuscher and Kobel.
"We played as hard we could. It just didn't happen for us today," Holdren said.
McPeak and Youngs controlled their quarterfinal match from the start, while May and Walsh struggled early. Dumont and Martin led 18-17 in the opening set before the 6-foot-2 Walsh put away consecutive spikes to start a clinching 4-1 spurt. The Americans never trailed in the second set.
May and Walsh are the only team -- men's or women's -- that hasn't dropped a set in Athens. They haven't lost a set to McPeak and Youngs since August 2003, a span of seven matches.
"Now it's 0-0," May said. "Those matches don't count. Kerri and I just need to concentrate on what we do on our side, and everything will fall into place."
In other quarterfinals Sunday:
* Second-seeded Brazilians Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar defeated third-seeded Brazilians Ana Paula Connelly and Sandra Pires, 15-21, 21-13, 15-13.
The Brazilians did not want to meet this early.
"If we meet them in the semifinals, then Brazil has two chances to get medals," Adriana said. "That would've been great for our country."
* Australians Julien Prosser and Mark Williams, the No. 17 seeds, defeated 11th-seeded Germans Christoph Dieckmann and Andreas Scheuerpflug, 16-21, 21-19, 15-10.
* Top-seeded Brazilians Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos had a surprisingly easy time beating third-seeded Swiss brothers Martin and Paul Laciga, 21-13, 21-16.