FIVB Vienna Major: Phil Dalhausser, Nick Lucena Sweep Germans, Move Onto Semifinals
It looked, for a second, if only a second, that Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena may have had an extra set of work to do in Saturday morning’s quarterfinals against Germans Lars Fluggen and Nils Ehlers.
After alas exorcising their Dutch demons, beating Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen — a team by which they had been knocked out in three consecutive tournaments — 15-13 in the third set, Dalhausser and Lucena had no trouble in the first against Fluggen and Ehlers. They won, 21-13, in as convincing a manner as the score reflects.
But then came a slow start to the second, and Dalhausser and Lucena found themselves down 12-9 at the technical.
And then Dalhausser showed the beach volleyball world just why he has been considered, almost unanimously, as the best blocker and all-around player in the world for the better part of the previous decade. With Dalhausser’s block leading the way, he and Lucena flipped that 12-9 deficit into a 16-12 advantage. Seven straight balls did Dalhausser serve. Seven straight did the Americans win.
The 21-18 second set score looks closer than it was in reality. Dalhausser and Lucena extended the lead to 20-15 before dropping a few points on excellent play from Germany’s side. Ultimately, however, it was Dalhausser and Lucena who prevailed, moving into their first semifinal in nearly five months, since a silver medal at the Doha Four-Star.
In the semifinals they will meet Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Filho, who are making a rapid climb up the world rankings, with a gold medal at the Espinho Four-Star followed by a fourth-place finish at the Tokyo Four-Star.
The last time Dalhausser and Cerutti played one another came at Fort Lauderdale of 2017, where Lucena and Dalhausser won, 15-10 in the third set. As for Filho, Dalhausser and Lucena have won their last four meetings, who is in his first season partnering with Alison.
With Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb out of the mix, due to an injury to Bourne, the quarterfinal win is especially momentous for Dalhausser and Lucena, who now have a massive opportunity to jump in the Olympic ranks.
On the other side of the bracket are, as expected, Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sorum and Poland’s Michael Bryl and Grzegorz Fijalek, a matchup that is typically reserved for the finals of tournaments of such magnitude.
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