AVP Austin: Dalhausser/Lucena, Pavlik/Ross take home gold

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The AVP returned to Austin, Texas this weekend after a 12-year absence/Mpu Dinani, AVP Photos

Twelve years later, Austin was good to Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena again.

They won the AVP Austin on Sunday, beating Trevor Crabb and Sean Rosenthal 21-12, 21-19 in the final. On May 1, 2005, Dalhausser and Nick won their very first event together in Austin. Four thousand, four hundred and three days later, they did again. This time, Dalhausser notched his 51st AVP win, while Lucena won his eighth.

Earlier, April Ross and Whitney Pavlik came out of the losers bracket and revenged an earlier loss to Kim DiCello and Emily Stockman 14-21, 21-16, 15-11 to win the women’s gold medal.

The weather caused delays Saturday, but Sunday the Texas faithful packed the stadium. The fans saw Dalhausser and Lucena, who skipped FIVB Rio, go through without losing a set.

“Once we saw this on the schedule, we’re playing  Austin, 100 percent,” Dalhausser said. “I don’t care if it’s a five-star the same weekend, we’re playing. I’m glad we’re not regretting our decision, because we’re leaving here with a W.”

In 2005, they were a promising qualifier team, but now are one of the most feared teams in the sport. One of their opponents in the final, Crabb, was 15 years old during the AVP Austin 2005 event, playing high school volleyball at famed Punahou high school in Honolulu.

After dominating set one with Dalhausser’s block and Lucena’s speedy defense, Crabb and Rosenthal steadied out to stay with Dalhausser and Lucena in set two.

At 16-15, Dalhausser had a block, Lucena put a ball through the Crabb block in what Crabb thought was an open hand tip, and Lucena had a dig and transition to put his team up 19-15.

At the 20-16 freeze, where points are only scored old-school, only when serving, some of the best volleyball in the tournament was played, with players making tremendous scramble plays. Crabb and Rosenthal closed the gap to 20-19 before Dalhausser put the ball away off the Crabb block on their fifth match point.

NBC Sports’ Dain Blanton asked Lucena about the freeze rule.

“It’s a trick question, Dain,” Lucena said. “I’m glad we won, if we would have lost that match I would have said that I can’t stand that rule. It’s different, the world hasn’t caught up to the rule yet, we’re trying that on the AVP, and it’s caused some exciting points like in that last game, so I think it’s a benefit for today’s game for sure.”

In the men’s semifinals, Dalhausser and Lucena beat Billy Allen and Stafford Slick 21-17, 21-16, while Crabb and Rosenthal ousted Jeremy Casebeer and John Mayer 20-22, 21-19, 15-10.

While the men’s winners had a routine battle to the title, the women’s side was anything but.

Second-seeded Ross and Pavlik lost in the winner’s bracket quarterfinals to third-seeded Kim DiCello and Emily Stockman in a 21-13, 17-21, 15-13 battle and dropped to the contender’s bracket. Once there, they battled fifth-seeded Jen Fopma and Kelly Reeves in another three-setter, 21-18, 19-21, 15-8. Their semifinal win against fourth-seeded Angela Bensend and Geena Urango was a 21-11, 21-15 affair that set up a rematch with DiCello and Stockman.

DiCello and Stockman beat Amanda Dowdy and Irene Hester Pollock 21-13, 17-21, 15-13 in the semifinals.

The first two sets of the final were lopsided affairs, split 14-21, 21-16. In the third game, Ross and Pavlik jumped off to a 4-1 lead on tough Ross serving. At 7-4, a Pavlik high line shot missed its mark, and tough Stockman serves that created transition opportunities tied it at 7-7. A diving DiCello retrieved a short pokey to go up 8-7.

After a Ross dig and transition to turn the score in their favor, Pavlik soft blocked a ball and put away a trouble set deep middle to take an 11-9 lead. An overset by DiCello from off the net gave Ross and Pavlik their first match point at 14-11.

The one match point was all Ross needed, jump floating deep middle for an untouched ace to put the punctuation mark on the title.

“This one ranks really high up there,” said Ross, whose Olympics partner Kerri Walsh Jennings won’t play in the AVP. “It’s been a couple tough weeks partner-wise, so I feel like I’m out here with something to prove, and I want to win every tournament.”

“The set up looks amazing and people here in Austin know how to do beach volleyball. They hang here all day with their coolers, bring their own seats, and bring the fire traveling between the action in the outer courts and stadium courts.”

Men’s semifinals
Match 27: Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (1) def. Billy Allen/Stafford Slick (3) 21-17, 21-16 (0:42) Match 28: Trevor Crabb/Sean Rosenthal (2) def. Jeremy Casebeer/John Mayer (4) 20-22, 21-19, 15-10 (1:03)
Final
Match 29: Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (1) def. Trevor Crabb/Sean Rosenthal (2) 21-12, 21-19 (0:52)      
Women’s semifinals
Match 27: Whitney Pavlik/April Ross (2) def. Angela Bensend/Geena Urango (4) 21-11, 21-15 (0:37)
Match 28: Kim DiCello/Emily Stockman (3) def. Amanda Dowdy/Irene Hester Pollock (9) 21-13, 17-21, 15-13 (0:59)
Final
Match 29: Whitney Pavlik/April Ross (2) def. Kim DiCello/Emily Stockman (3) 14-21, 21-16, 15-11 (1:00)      

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