Phil Dalhausser, Nick Lucena win season’s first beach volleyball major
Olympians Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena kept rolling in marquee events, winning the first of three beach volleyball majors this season in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this past week.
Dalhausser and Lucena, who lost to eventual gold medalists Alison and Bruno of Brazil in the Rio Olympic quarterfinals, swept Italians Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo 21-12, 21-17 in Sunday’s final to cap an undefeated week with no sets lost in six matches.
Nicolai and Lupo took silver in Rio and upset Dalhausser and his 2008 Olympic gold-medal partner Todd Rogers in the 2012 Olympic round of 16.
Dalhausser and Lucena won the last major of the 2017 season and then the 2017 World Tour Finals. In between those two events, they lost in the world championships quarterfinals. There are no world championships in even-numbered years.
Dalhausser has at least one international win in 13 straight seasons dating to his years with Rogers.
Alison and Bruno, meanwhile, are in one of their worst stretches of results in their four-year partnership. The lost in the round of 16 for a fourth straight FIVB World Tour event and haven’t won outside of Brazil since September 2016.
In the women’s event, Barbara, an Olympic silver medalist and 2015 World champion with former partner Agatha, and Fernanda won an all-Brazil final. Americans Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross took bronze.
Olympic bronze medalist April Ross and new partner Alix Klineman went winless in pool play after taking the title in their international debut together in January.
Kerri Walsh Jennings didn’t play in Fort Lauderdale. The 39-year-old, three-time Olympic champion last competed on the World Tour in July, when she dislocated a five-times surgically repaired right shoulder in a match. She later underwent 2017 season-ending ankle and shoulder surgeries but is expected to return this spring with partner Nicole Branagh.
The next World Tour major is in July in Gstaad, Switzerland.
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