KENNER, Louisiana — If Phil Dalhausser wants to play AVP Hermosa Beach with a guy named John Sutton, well, why not?
After all, he’s Phil Dalhausser. Sunday, once again, Dalhausser showed that he’s still, at 42, the best American big man in pro beach volleyball. He and effervescent partner Casey Patterson, also 42, survived a 17-21, 21-19, 15-13 victory over Taylor Crabb and Taylor Sander to win the AVP Pro Series New Orleans Open.
“I’m really tired,” the 6-foot-9 Dalhausser admitted after. “Halfway through the second, I was tired. But then I remember reading somewhere that when you feel like you don’t have anything left in the tank, you have another 40 percent. And I was like, OK, I’ve got another 40 percent. And that will last me through set number three.”
“I think I have another 10 percent left.”
Dalhausser at 10 percent is still pretty awesome. He may have announced his retirement from international play last summer after the Tokyo Olympics, but he still has all his skills, playing defense like no big man ever has, blocking with aplomb, setting flawlessly and coming up with the big blast when he needs to.
After winning the AVP Austin season opener with Andy Benesh, this victory was his 61st on the AVP Tour. Dalhausser, a four-time Olympian and 2008 gold-medalist who won his first AVP in 2005, has won with five different partners.
Patterson, playing with Dalhausser for the first time since 2009, won for the 18th time with his fourth different partner. They split $14,000 for the win, while the Taylors got $8,500.
“Just because they’re a little older doesn’t mean that they’re not some of the best players on tour,” Crabb said. “Casey’s an Olympian and Phil is obviously the best of all time. And it’s not even close.”
“They’re still very good.”
Top-seeded Dalhausser and Patterson won their first two matches at night, when it was cooler, beating Noah Dyer and Chase Frishman in three and then Evan Cory and Billy Kolinske in two on Friday. Saturday, they beat Chase Budinger and Troy Field in two.
And no wonder Dalhausser was tired Sunday evening.
Earlier, in the heat of the day, the won their semifinal over Paul Lotman and Miles Partain 23-21, 16-21, 15-11 in a match that took an hour, 16 minutes.
“Usually you feel pressure as the older guy who’s been served the last five years,” Patterson said, “but there’s a lot more extra pressure when you’re playing with Phil. If you can’t win with Phil, everybody remembers that and talks about it. You’ve got to work for it.
“I’m glad I could pull it off. He’s one of the most incredible setters ever. I haven’t been training at all, played five times total, and he made me feel like I was training all season. He gives you that feeling when you play with him. There are guys who are just winners. I had a blast. It was something I wish I could have done for a long time, play with him. That’s why I quit to become a defender 13 years ago to hopefully play with him one day. I waited a long time and it worth it and I got my once chance.”
“He’s amazing. Casey’s a great player and a fun guy,” Dalhausser said. “Always with the crowd. I’m looking to get out of here and catch my flight and he’s yakking it up with the fans.”
Crabb, an Olympian last summer with the now-retired Jake Gibb, took on as his new partner the 6-foot-4 Sander, the former BYU great who was also an Olympian, but indoors. They opened Friday by going three to beat Cody Caldwell and Adam Roberts before going three again to defeat John Hyden and Logan Webber. Saturday they sent Lotman and Partain to the contenders bracket with an 18-21, 21-16, 15-10 victory. In the semifinals, Crabb-Sander beat Budinger and Field 21-15, 23-21.
“We were up and down but we grinded all of our games and that’s what we like to see,” Crabb said.
Sander, he said, “in my eyes since we were kids he’s been the best volleyball player I’ve been around, indoor and on the beach. He’s got it all and you guys saw it all weekend. He can do everything. It’s going to be exciting.”
Noted Dalhausser: “I think (Sander) would be better off as a defender so he doesn’t have to worry about running up to block and he can unload on his serve every time. But man, incredible athlete. Incredible athlete.
Dalhausser is signed up to play in the Volleyball World Gstaad Elite 16 with Benesh July 6-10. “Hopefully we get a wild card.”
If not, his next domestic competition will be the AVP Pro Series Hermosa Beach Open July 8-10.
“I have a deal with this friend of mine, John Sutton, and I’ve got to pay up my part of the deal. So hopefully I can get him into Hermosa.”
And John Sutton? On BVBinfo.com, there’s a John Sutton, 39, who has played in four AVP tournaments — in 2017, ’18, ’19 and ’21 with three 89th-place finishes.
“He’s from Florida,” Patterson said.
“He’s a friend of mine,” Dalhausser said wryly. “He plays qualifiers. Yeah.”