HAMBURG, Germany – Following a victory against the world’s top ranked team in the semifinal, Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena brought home gold against The Netherlands at the FIVB Hamburg Major.
In the gold medal match, Dalhausser and Lucena outlasted The Netherlands’ Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen 29-27 in the first set only to steamroll through the second, 21-12. It marks the pair’s sixth gold medal and ninth overall for Olympic qualification, which officially closed with Sunday’s men’s gold medal match.
With the gold medal win, Dalhausser and Lucena secured their spot as third in the Olympic seedings.
In the opening frame of the gold medal match, The Netherlands reached match point first, at 20-19. After four chances to close the frame, they were unable to keep Dalhausser and Lucena away. A diagonal shot by Lucena gave the U.S. pair their first set point, 24-23, but play continued to go back and forth. It was the USA’s fifth set point that set it up for a Dalhausser ace to win the frame, 29-27.
“It gives you momentum going into the second set,” Lucena said. “I thought they were serving very tough and then Phil came up with that ace in the end and then he took over in the second set with a lot of blocks.”
The second set was much smoother for Dalhausser and Lucena. They went on to crush the opposition, 21-12.
“Momentum is a big thing in sports in general,” added Dalhausser. “We took that momentum in the second, had a big lead, and never let go.”
Having opened the tournament with a 3-0 pool play record, including a win against countrymen John Hyden/Tri Bourne, Dalhausser and Lucena topped France 22-20, 21-15 in the second round.
In the quarterfinals the pair once against faced off against an American team, this time against Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson. On the line for the winner was a chance to pass The Netherlands in the Olympic rankings. Heading into the game the series was tied 1-1, but it was Dalhausser and Lucena who walked away with the edge, winning a spot in the semifinal 22-20, 21-18.
Another monumental match-up came when Dalhausser and Lucena played the World’s top-ranked Alison Cerutti/Bruno Schmidt. The match, the fourth between the two teams, seemed almost lop sided as the U.S. controlled the momentum and aggressiveness of play, winning 21-16, 21-15.
“Obviously it feels good to win,” Dalhausser said after the match. “We wanted to play against them before the Olympics just in case we met them in the Olympics so we know what works and what not. It was a perfect scenario, we executed the game plan. I’m sure we’ll play them again at some point and it’ll be way closer than that.”
The USA’s second ranked men’s team, Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson, finished tied for fifth after being dispatched by Dalhausser/Lucena in the quarterfinals. In their first FIVB World Tour event together, Theo Brunner and Billy Allen tied for 17th after being eliminated in the first round. John Hyden/Tri Bourne placed 25th.
Up next of the FIVB World Tour are seven tournaments, including the World Tour Finals, all of which do not have point bearings for the Olympics.
WEEK IN REVIEW
FIVB Hamburg Major
– Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena won gold their ninth medal in Olympic qualification and sixth at first place
– Kerri Walsh Jennings/April Ross placed fourth, their first tournament in 2016 where they didn’t medal – dating back to the 2015 Rio Open (Sept.; 9th place)
– Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson tied for fifth, their fifth Top 5 finish in 2016
– Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat tied for 17th; despite not improving their ranking points, the duo satisfied their Olympic qualification requirements on June 10
– Theo Brunner/Billy Allen tied for 17th in their first international event together, Allen’s FIVB debut
– Jennifer Kessy/Emily Day tied for 25th, the first time in the last eight tournaments the pair did not advance out of pool play
– John Hyden/Tri Bourne tied for 25th, their lowest finish as a team since April 2014
– Lost in qualification: Amanda Dowdy/Emily Stockman lost in the second round of qualification
June 14-19 Olsztyn Grand Slam
June 16-19 AVP New York City
June 23-25 NVL San Antonio
June 23-26 AVP San Francisco
June 28-July 3 Porec Major
July 1-3 NORCECA North Bay
July 5-10 Gstaad Major
July 9 *Tentative* announcement of Olympic pool placements
July 14-16 NVL Columbus
July 14-17 AVP Manhattan Beach Open
Aug. 5-18 Olympic Games beach volleyball matches
Aug. 11-13 NVL Hermosa Beach
Aug. 23-28 Long Beach Grand Slam
Aug. 26-28 NVL Virginia Beach
Sept. 1-4 AVP Chicago
Sept. 8-12 NVL Port St. Lucie
Sept. 13-18 Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals
Oct. 11-16 Puerto Vallarta Open