LONDON — The Americans wound up in opposite sides of the beach volleyball playoff brackets in a draw completed Thursday night – meaning the U.S. teams wouldn't meet until the gold-medal game.
Defending Olympic champions Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser will play Italy in their first playoff game on Friday night. The other U.S. men's team of Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal will meet the Russians in the round of 16 on Saturday night.
On the women's side, Beijing gold medalists Kerry Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor will meet Marleen van Irsel and Sanne Keizer in their knockout round opener on Saturday morning. Jennifer Kessy and April Ross drew the Swiss team of Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr for the round of 16 on Friday afternoon.
All four American teams finished the preliminary round atop their pools, with Rogers and Dalhausser beating the Czech Republic in their round-robin finale on Thursday night. All four Brazilian teams also won their pools, setting up a potential collision between the sport's traditional powers in the knockout round.
"They're the strongest countries," Rogers said after beating Premysl Kubala and Petr Benes 21-13, 21-15. "It's holding up so far, I'd say."
The top two teams in each of six four-team pools advanced, with the best third-place teams relegated to a lucky loser round. Just an hour after leaving the court following their loss to Rogers and Dalhausser, the Czechs lost to Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik of Germany for a spot in the knockout round.
That earned the Germans a playoff matchup with defending world champions Emanuel and Alison. The Brazilians struggled early but beat Italy's Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo 26-24, 21-18 to keep the four Brazilian teams unbeaten in 12 matches.
Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo beat Canada 21-16, 22-20 in the other play-in game and won the right to play Rogers and Dalhausser.
In the women's lucky loser matches, Austrian sisters Stefanie and Doris Schwaiger beat Britain's Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin 21-15, 21-12, knocking the hosts out of the tournament. Madelein Meppelink and Sophie van Gestel of the Netherlands beat Hana Klapalova and Lenka Hajeckova of the Czech Republic 21-17, 21-17 in the other play-in game.
Kessy and Ross finished with a 3-0 record after a 21-19, 19-21, 19-17 victory over Spain. Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor also finished their pool play on Wednesday with a 3-0 record and a No. 1 seed, and Gibb and Rosenthal earned a top seed despite a 2-1 record.
In all, the Americans were 11-1.
In other action, Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins of Latvia beat Reinder Nummerdor and Rich Schuil of the Netherlands in a matchup of unbeatens. Both teams advanced to the knockout round.
Spain beat Japan 21-19, 22-20, and Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik of Germany beat Venezuela 20-22, 21-16, 15-11.
Marleen van Iersel and Sanne Keizer of the Netherlands beat Ana Gallay and Maria Virginia Zonta of Argentina. The Dutch advanced to the knockout round and the Argentines were eliminated.
Italy beat Canada to knock it out of the tournament and Germany beat Madelein Meppelink and Sophie van Gestel of the Netherlands in straight sets. Russia beat host Britain in straight sets to knock it out, too.
Maria and Talita of Brazil beat Becchara Palmer and Louise Bawden of Australia, 18-21, 21-16, 15-9.