What a weekend for Team USA. Finally in the position of playing an international tournament on their home turf, American beach players capitalized with Todd Rogers and Theo Brunner taking bronze and April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings and Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal taking gold in the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball.
In the women’s final, Walsh Jennings and Ross faced Brazilian duo Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas, marking the 90th time a Brazilian team played an American team in an FIVB gold medal match. (With Walsh Jennings and Ross scoring the win, the overall record between the rival countries is 50-40, USA in the lead.)
Playing a practically error-free match, Walsh Jennings and Ross never allowed the Brazilians a lead, winning 21-17, 21-17. The loss marked Agatha and Barbara’s first FIVB silver medal as partners.
After solidifying the win with an April Ross roll shot kill over the block and down the line, Walsh Jennings credited the packed stadium of American spectators. The crowd was our third man, she said, waving to her fans decked out in red, white, and blue.
The men’s gold medal match pitted Rosenthal and Dalhausser against the Polish duo of Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel in a repeat of The Hague Grand Slam final only a week before. Fijalek and Prudel gained the upper hand in The Hague, but in front of the American fans it was a different story. Dalhausser and Rosenthal dropped a tightly contested first set 22-24 but went on to win the next two 21-17, 15-9 to take gold. Adding the Long Beach title to those from Stavanger and Gstaad, Rosenthal and Dalhausser have tied their total international wins from 2013, with three grand slams and five opens left to play in the 2014 season.
This week, the international players journey to Austria where they will compete in the Klagenfurt Grand Slam.