HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena and Emily Day and Brittany Hochevar won the respective titles Sunday at the season-opening AVP Huntington Beach Open.

Or, as the FIVB reported:

Finally, a week of off-court drama was given a hiatus as the Association of Beach Professionals opened the United States Beach Volleyball domestic tour on Sunday with champions determined on the sand instead of in the media.

The 2016 Rio Olympics pair of third-seeded Dalhausser and Lucena beat seventh-seeded John Hyden and Ryan Doherty for the second time in the tournament, this time 21-16, 21-17 in the final.

“Every time you win a tournament, it feels pretty good. It’s been a long time since I’ve won in Huntington,” said Dalhausser, who had won Huntington four times previously. “Hyden and Doherty are a really good side-out team. We had to serve a little tougher than we did yesterday. It was a high-level match. We got them in some passing trouble and I think that was the difference.”

“We really wanted to win that Fort Lauderdale event but to come out here after waiting for three months to get a victory shows that all our practice and hard work paid off,” Lucena told the FIVB. 

Earlier Sunday in the semifinals, Doherty and Hyden eliminated Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb, while Dalhausser and Lucena defeated Casey Patterson and Theo Brunner.

Top-seeded Day and Hochevar beat sixth-seeded Betsi Flint and Kelley Larsen 21-13, 21-19. Day and Hochevar won all five of their matches, four of them in two sets. Earlier Sunday, they knocked off April Ross and Whitney Pavlik.

Emily Day (right) and Brittany Hochevar win their second AVP event together/Allen Szto
Emily Day (right) and Brittany Hochevar win their second AVP event together/Allen Szto

“Being a local Cal State Long Beach alumni, Huntington Beach was our home beach. This is a great place for jumpers like us to play,” Hochevar said.

“Regarding the weather over the last couple days, it showed how AVP strong the fans and players are. They aren’t going anywhere, we aren’t going anywhere — we just want to put on a great show but all we can do is take it one point at a time. Don’t think too far in the future or stay too far in the past. Stay aggressive but patient. It’s not what you do, but when you do it!”

Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena douse their coach, Jason Lochhead with champagne/Ed Chan,
Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena douse their coach, Jason Lochhead, with champagne/Ed Chan,

More from the FIVB:

It was not only the opening event of the eight-stop tour, it had the backdrop of legend Kerri Walsh Jennings announcing she would no longer take part on the AVP, meaning she would have to split with Olympic partner April Ross to pursue other ventures in the sport.

And early, the tournament signaled the AVP’s new commitment to allowing international players to enter their events, provided they had all their red tape cleared to earn work visas. 

However, none of the foreign players made it through the qualification rounds. Olympian Sarah Pavan of Canada and Brazilian legend Maria Clara Salgado fell one match short of reaching the main draw, as did Canada’s Brandie Wilkerson, who was playing with American Branagan Fuller.

On the men’s side, Marcin Jagoda of Poland and Tomas Salava couldn’t get out of the qualifier. In a bit of a twist, Canadian Olympian Chaim Schalk played with American indoor legend Reid Priddy, who was taking part in his first AVP event since 2009.

Schalk actually holds dual citizenship, so he could continue on the tour at any time and he may return for the AVP’s third event in New York with Brazilian legend Ricardo Santos, who now lives in Florida and is trying to clear his way through the bureaucracy.

Dalhausser and Lucena, playing in their 35th AVP event together, captured their fourth title. Dalhausser’s fifth Huntington title broke a tie with former teammate Todd Rogers for the most titles in “Surf City.”

The AVP’s next event is in two weeks in Austin, Texas, but six of the tour’s teams will head to South America to compete in the four-star FIVB Rio de Janeiro event. Lucena and Dalhausser, who defeated Olympic gold-medalists Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Alison Cerutti in a February exhibition in Rio, will play in Austin.

Kelley Larsen lunges for a ball in the women's final/Ed Chan,
Kelley Larsen lunges for a ball in the women’s final/Ed Chan,
Match 27: Emily Day/Brittany Hochevar (1) def. Whitney Pavlik/April Ross (2) 23-21, 21-14 (0:48)
Match 28: Betsi Flint/Kelley Larsen (6) def. Lane Carico/Lauren Fendrick (4) 21-17, 21-13 (0:42)
Match 29: Emily Day/Brittany Hochevar (1) def. Betsi Flint/Kelley Larsen (6) 21-13, 21-19 (0:36)  
Match 27: Ryan Doherty/John Hyden (7) def. Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb (1) 21-18, 22-20 (0:46) Match 28: Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (3) def. Theo Brunner/Casey Patterson (2) 21-10, 15-21, 15-10 (0:53)
Match 29: Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (3) def. Ryan Doherty/John Hyden (7) 21-16, 21-17 (0:51)     


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