olympics

Misty May-Treanor lets out a celebratory scream after winning her third straight Olympic gold medal in beach volleyball on Wednesday in London. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / August 8, 2012)

Like most Americans, Dan Glenn had a rooting interest on both sides of the net Wednesday. The Newport Harbor High girls' volleyball coach entering his 27th season said watching the live afternoon feed of the women's beach volleyball gold-medal match from the Olympics in London, in which former Sailors Misty May-Treanor and April Ross and their respective partners did battle, was a win-win situation.

"[Tuesday's semifinals] was the big day," Glenn said of May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings defeating the No. 2-seeded Chinese duo, while Ross and Jennifer Kessy rallied to beat the top-seeded Brazilian tandem to set up the All-American final. "That was the nervous day. [Wednesday] was just completely different, because there was no enemy. I knew one of them was going to come through."

After May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings defeated Ross and Kessy, 21-16, 21-16, to claim their third straight Olympic gold medal and cap an unprecedented career together as partners, Glenn talked glowingly about both of his former players.

"There's no better way for Misty to go out," Glenn said of May-Treanor, who said before the games that she would retire after the tournament. "It's unbelievable. Three gold medals. People talk about Michael Phelps [the U.S. men's swimmer who earned his record 22nd Olympic medal and 18th gold medal in London], but Misty has only one event and she has three golds and a bronze. And I like her chances for another gold that first year [2000 in Sydney, Australia] had she not pulled an abdominal muscle and been hurt.

"And I'm so proud of April and Jen. They had lost to the Brazilians nine times in a row and 18 of the last 22, and [Brazilians Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca] were ranked the No. 1 team in the world. To lose the first game and to fall apart a little bit at the end, then be down in the second game and come back, it brought tears to my eyes."

May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings improved to 28-5 overall against Ross and Kessy, including a 12-2 mark in international play.

Glenn said his two former standouts, whose four-year high school careers did not overlap, showed the world what he saw in them since they walked onto the practice floor as 14-year-old freshmen.

"The greatest thing about Misty and April is that they are so similar in many ways," Glenn said. "No. 1, in how competitive they both are and, No. 2, they both have the magical ability to make their teammates around them better. That's a special, special quality that not a lot of people have.

"They are both phenomenal partners and great, great teammates. I am so proud of Misty and April and they both have outstanding parents. They both lost their moms, and both dads, Butch [May] and Glenn [Ross] are both phenomenal athletes, so their daughters are a reflection of them. [Misty and April] are great, great people and its great to see great things happen to great people. They both won state championships at Newport Harbor, both were NCAA Player of the Year, and they are both winners in everything they've ever done. I can't think of two better people to coach."

The coach in Glenn revealed why he thought May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings got the best of the Ross-Kessy duo, which finished 6-1 in their first Olympics.

May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings finished 21-0 in Olympic competition, having won 42 of 43 sets.

"You never want to bet against Misty the way she had been playing," Glenn said. "As the tournament went on, she got progressively better and was playing her best volleyball at the end. I think [Walsh Jennings] got April a couple times with the block and I think that really hurt Jen and April. April is kind of their dynamic hitter and she went up and took a couple of pretty good swings. But Kerri got her.

"Misty and Kerri just don't make many mistakes," Glenn said. "You can beat them if they fall asleep or make some unforced errors. But [Wednesday] they were sideout machines."

May-Treanor had 16 kills on 24 attack attempts in the final. She also made 15 digs and did not have a service error. She finished the tournament with 120 kills and 107 digs.

Ross finished with eight kills in 17 attempts, with four digs Wednesday. She had three service errors, including one that sailed long on match point. She had 14 aces in her previous six matches, but none in the final.

May-Treanor's defense, always one of her more-heralded skills, helped her team post a 17-9 advantage in digs.

Walsh Jennings had an uncharacteristic five missed serves, but she had both of her team's aces, matching the total of her opponents (both by Kessy).

Glenn said the push to go out on top on the sport's biggest stage also fueled May-Treanor.

"The magic about Misty and Kerri has always been, the later in the match or the tournament that it got, the better they played," Glenn said. "That probably separated them from anyone else. Kerri was coming off having two babies and Misty tore her Achilles [after the 2008 victory in Beijing]. And all along, there was one tournament those guys were playing for and that was the Olympics. Misty was all about coming back for one reason: the Olympics."

Glenn also said May-Treanor leaves the game as the best player in the history of the sport. She amassed 112 tournament victories, both domestic and international, during a professional career that began in 1999. Her career winnings are listed at more than $2.1 million.

"She turned a whole generation on to volleyball," Glenn said. "That's Misty's legacy. For a lot of the players she played against, Misty was their idol. She was able to create opportunities for other women and people like April are benefiting."

Glenn said Ross, 30, five years younger than May-Treanor and Kessy (Walsh is 33) is among those in position to carry the torch.

"April is carrying it on," Glenn said. "She's going to be around. Hopefully, she stays healthy and is in Rio [de Jeneiro, Brazil, which will host the 2016 Olympics]."

barry.faulkner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5