FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – You would have thought that John Hyden and Ryan Doherty had an epic turnaround victory in the Fort Lauderdale Major quarterfinals on Friday.
But that makeshift American team was outdone a little more than an hour later by Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena before a raucous crowd at Fort Lauderdale Park Beach.
The silver lining came when Hyden and Doherty erased the taste of a disaster of a start to stun Olympic silver medalists Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy, 12-21, 21-19, 15-11. The gold standard was set when Dalhausser and Lucena rebounded from their own poor start to upend Olympic champions Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Alison Cerutti of Brazil, 13-21, 21-17, 15-10.
That sets up two USA vs. Brazil semifinals in the first FIVB World Tour event of 2017, with the winners meeting later in the day to decide the season’s first champion.
Dalhausser and Lucena will face Olympian Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola in the first semifinal. Hyden and Doherty take on Alvaro Filho and Saymon Barbosa. Both of those teams are new for 2017.
Dalhausser/Lucena, who lost to Alison/Bruno in the quarterfinals of the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics, reversed their fortune when Lucena settled himself down after the first game and Dalhausser took over at the net with an emotion-filled performance.
On the women’s side, Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross plus newly formed team Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross reached the quarterfinals. They’ll play in the final eight Saturday hoping to move on to Sunday’s semifinals and gold-medal match.
The highlight of the Friday came when Dalhausser capped his team’s comeback with a big block on Bruno, the reigning FIVB World player of the year.
“It was probably a little frustration from Rio and the crowd was great behind us,” Dalhausser said of his rare displays of emotion, particularly after his seven blocks. “It was a big match for us to make it to the semifinals.
“It’s just a fierce rivalry. There’s just something about beating Brazil, and I’m sure they feel the same way when they beat us. It goes back to the beginning of beach volleyball.”
The two teams know everything they need to know about each other, so any edge the teams can find could turn a match. Dalhausser and Lucena traded moments of picking each other up, especially when they dragged through the first set as Alison/Bruno smoothly ran their attack.
“That was two great teams in a high-level match,” said Lucena, who with Dalhausser learned the game on the same beach. “Our block defense was a lot better than it’s been against those guys. Hat’s off to Phil, he stuck with me that first game and at the end we were able to pull it out.
“It’s good to get some emotion. We came out flat in the first and he had no emotion, so I threw a couple of F-bombs trying to fire him up. He helped me out.”
Alison/Bruno never trailed in the first set, and the Americans looked a little disheveled. Lucena hit into the net to give the Brazilians two of their final three points. The Americans controlled the second, using a 5-1 run to create space and they eventually led by as many as seven points.
In the tiebreaker, the lead changed hands twice before Dalhausser came up big at the net, picking up four of his blocks.
“They started well in the second and also at the end of the tiebreak we got tired,” Bruno said. “I’m not taking away the credit from them. When you play against Phil you cannot fall down especially at the end of the match. We won pretty easily in the first but we knew they were going to play better.”
It followed a pattern set by the 44-year-old Hyden and Doherty, who was added to the team on Saturday after Tri Bourne determined he wasn’t fully healed from a shoulder injury.
A little tweak in the attack, in which the crafty Hyden told the 7-foot-1 Doherty to attack the second ball, changed the rhythm.
“Dani is good, man, the way he moves it around,” Hyden said. “Nicolai could be the biggest blocker out here. We had to steady out and make some plays. Can’t give you all of it, but it’s a chess match. I’ve got to think what Dani’s doing, he’s got to think of what I’m doing and that’s kind of what it came down to. I started making plays and making the right moves.
“We came out with a game plan, it wasn’t working and I told Ryan we’re going to do something else and it started working.”
Walsh Jennings and Ross reached the quarterfinals with a workmanlike 21-18, 21-14 victory over Russians Ekaterina Birlova and Nadezda Makroguzova and will face Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa. The last time they faced Agatha, she was paired with Barbara Seixas and the Brazilians topped the Americans in the Olympic semifinals.
“I’m extremely happy with how we’re playing right now for such an early tournament and such an abbreviated preseason so far,” Ross said. “We just need to take care of our bodies and minds and show up ready to go each time.”
Sweat and Ross, playing together this week for the first time, extended their record to 4-0 with a 21-13, 21-18 win over another Russian team, Evgeniya Ukolova and Anastasia Barsuk.
“We’ve gotten better every match,” said Sweat, the Fort Myers, Fla. native. “This one was a little shaky with the wind and the Russians served really tough. They made us work hard for our sideouts.
“We’re meshing really well. We’re a new team but we’re just flowing really well together right now.”
Men’s Winner’s Bracket
Match 49: Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen Germany (19) def. Janis Smedins/Aleksandrs Samoilovs Latvia (2) 21-19, 21-19 (1:19)
Match 50: Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt Brazil (3) def. Esteban Grimalt/Marco Grimalt Chile (23) 19-21, 21-15, 18-16 (1:35)
Match 51: Sam Pedlow/Sam Schachter Canada (12) def. Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Artem Yarzutkin Russia (16) 21-17, 22-20 (0:37)
Match 52: Evandro Goncalves/Andre Loyola Brazil (8) def. Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst Austria (17) 18-21, 21-19, 18-16 (1:01)
Match 53: Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira Spain (6) def. Sean Rosenthal/Trevor Crabb United States (31, Q12) 21-18, 19-21, 25-23 (1:42)
Match 54: Nico Beeler/Marco Krattiger Switzerland (29, Q10) def. Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk Canada (7) 22-20, 21-18 (0:35)
Match 55: Michael Plantinga/Grant O’Gorman Canada (21) def. Pedro Solberg/Gustavo Carvalhaes Brazil (4) 21-14, 21-19 (0:35)
Match 56: John Hyden/Ryan Doherty United States (24) def. Alex Ranghieri/Marco Caminati Italy (22) 19-21, 21-12, 15-12 (0:44)
Match 57: Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena United States (1) def. Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen Germany (19) 21-13, 21-10 (0:22)
Match 58: Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt Brazil (3) def. Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak Poland (5) 16-21, 21-18, 15-13 (0:49)
Match 59: Jake Gibb/Taylor Crabb United States (11) def. Sam Pedlow/Sam Schachter Canada (12) 21-18, 21-18 (0:35)
Match 60: Evandro Goncalves/Andre Loyola Brazil (8) def. Theo Brunner/Casey Patterson United States (14) 21-18, 21-19 (0:40)
Match 61: Grzegorz Fijalek/Michal Bryl Poland (13) def. Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira Spain (6) 25-23, 20-22, 15-12 (0:52)
Match 62: Alvaro Filho/Saymon Barbosa Brazil (9, Q1) def. Nico Beeler/Marco Krattiger Switzerland (29, Q10) 21-12, 21-19 (0:34)
Match 63: Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo Italy (10) def. Michael Plantinga/Grant O’Gorman Canada (21) 21-18, 13-21, 15-5 (0:39)
Match 64: John Hyden/Ryan Doherty United States (24) def. Nikita Liamin/Viacheslav Krasilnikov Russia (15) 23-25, 21-17, 15-9 (0:45)
Match 65: Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena United States (1) def. Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt Brazil (3) 13-21, 21-17, 15-10 (0:
Match 66: Evandro Goncalves/Andre Loyola Brazil (8) def. Jake Gibb/Taylor Crabb United States (11) 21-19, 21-17 (0:36)
Match 67: Alvaro Filho/Saymon Barbosa Brazil (9, Q1) def. Grzegorz Fijalek/Michal Bryl Poland (13) 21-14, 21-17 (0:26)
Match 68: John Hyden/Ryan Doherty United States (24) def. Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo Italy (10) 12-21, 21-19, 15-11 (0:42)
Match 69: Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena United States (1) vs. Evandro Goncalves/Andre Loyola Brazil (8)
Match 70: Alvaro Filho/Saymon Barbosa Brazil (9, Q1) vs. John Hyden/Ryan Doherty United States (24)
Women’s Winners Bracket
Match 49: Ekaterina Birlova/Nadezda Makroguzova Russia (26, Q3) def. Joana Heidrich/Anouk Verge-Depre Switzerland (6) 21-13, 21-16 (0:35)
Match 50: Lauren Fendrick/Sara Hughes United States (18) def. Karla Borger/Margareta Kozuch Germany (23) 18-21, 21-15, 19-17 (0:53)
Match 51: Josemari Alves/Liliane Maestrini Brazil (14, Q1) def. Sandra Ittlinger/Teresa Mersmann Germany (29, Q5) 21-15, 17-21, 15-10 (0:44)
Match 52: Brittany Hochevar/Emily Day United States (28, Q4) def. Joy Stubbe/Jolien Sinnema Netherlands (31, Q6) 21-19, 22-24, 15-10 (0:47)
Match 53: Evgeniya Ukolova/Anastasia Barsuk Russia (24) def. Kelly Claes/Kelly Reeves United States (30, Q9) 19-21, 21-13, 15-10 (0:42)
Match 54: Kristyna Kolocova/Michala Kvapilova Czech Republic (22) def. Taru Lahti/Anniina Parkkinen Finland (17) 21-12, 21-14 (0:30)
Match 55: Barbara Seixas/Fernanda Alves Brazil (16, Q2) def. Katharina Schutzenhofer/Stefanie Schwaiger Austria (25) 21-9, 17-21, 15-9 (0:43)
Match 56: Sophie van Gestel/Madelein Meppelink Netherlands (12) def. Kira Walkenhorst/Julia Grossner Germany (4) 21-19, 21-15 (0:33)
Match 57: April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings United States (1) def. Ekaterina Birlova/Nadezda Makroguzova Russia (26, Q3) 21-18, 21-14 (0:33)
Match 58: Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda Lisboa Brazil (5) def. Lauren Fendrick/Sara Hughes United States (18) 17-21, 21-18, 17-15 (0:36)
Match 59: Josemari Alves/Liliane Maestrini Brazil (14, Q1) def. Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova Czech Republic (9) 17-21, 21-19, 16-14 (0:49)
Match 60: Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude Germany (3) def. Brittany Hochevar/Emily Day United States (28, Q4) 21-16, 21-12 (0:31)
Match 61: Brooke Sweat/Summer Ross United States (13) def. Evgeniya Ukolova/Anastasia Barsuk Russia (24) 21-13, 21-18 (0:30)
Match 62: Kristyna Kolocova/Michala Kvapilova Czech Republic (22) def. Elize Maia/Taiana Lima Brazil (7) 17-21, 22-20, 15-7 (0:41)
Match 63: Barbara Seixas/Fernanda Alves Brazil (16, Q2) def. Brandie Wilkerson/Heather Bansley Canada (11) 21-17, 21-19 (0:37)
Match 64: Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes Brazil (2) def. Sophie van Gestel/Madelein Meppelink Netherlands (12) 21-18, 21-16 (0:30)
Match 65: April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings United States (1) vs. Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda Lisboa Brazil (5)
Match 66: Josemari Alves/Liliane Maestrini Brazil (14, Q1) vs. Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude Germany (3)
Match 67: Brooke Sweat/Summer Ross United States (13) vs. Kristyna Kolocova/Michala Kvapilova Czech Republic (22)
Match 68: Barbara Seixas/Fernanda Alves Brazil (16, Q2) vs. Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes Brazil (2)