Fuzhou, China, April 23, 2016 – USA’s Philip Dalhausser and Nicholas Lucena are back on top, taking gold under wet conditions in their final against Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo at the 2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Fuzhou Open.
The two sides have never actually played each other while Dalhausser and Lucena have been a team, but every player on the court was absolutely aware of the others capabilities. The first set progressed evenly with Nicolai and Dalhausser almost equal in stature at the net, Nicolai standing at 203cm, Dalhausser at 205cm.
The US team demonstrating their usual calm and collected manner crept ahead in the first set and even Nicolai’s major hits could not save the set for Italy, 21-18. The second set saw power and accuracy from both sides, Lucena and Lupo equally able to get around blocks at the net. Paolo Nicolai from Italy and USA’s Philip Dalhausser and Nicholas Lucena
Dalhausser/Lucena began to pull away from the Italians and by 17-13, the gap was becoming increasingly difficult to close. A heart breaking long serve by Nicolai lost match point and the gold medal was secure for Dalhausser/Lucena 2-0 (21-18, 21-15).
“I played average, but this guy played great, he was by far the best player out there, he sided out I think every single ball, it was all him,” said Dalhausser.
“Hats off to Nicolai and Lupo. Lupo has been sick all weekend and they played smooth, it’s frustrating playing against him. Phil got some blocks on the big guy, we switched it up and were just able to side out and pass and set in the rain so I’m happy to get this gold. It’s good for us for the Olympics and it’s a good feeling,” said Lucena.USA’s Philip Dalhausser (right) and Nicholas Lucena
The gold is the second for Dalhausser/Lucena this year after winning the Maceio Open in their season opening tournament. Silver for Nicolai/Lupo comes after a week battling fever in Fuzhou and is their second of the season after the Vitoria Open in March.
“We’re a little bit disappointed because it’s the second final that we lost this year, but we played against a great team, for sure one of the best in the world and so they played better than us and they won the game.
“In the semifinal we played better than now, especially on service and block, so we are happy now because a silver medal is always important for points, for everything, but next time we want to try and win the gold,” said Nicolai. Bronze for Pablo Herrera Allepuz, yet to see his new-born
The bronze medal match was between Spain’s Pablo Herrera Allepuz and Adrián Gavira Collado and Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins. With teams heading into a bronze medal match off the back of a loss in the semifinals, it is always a test for the players to refocus. Latvia were definitely the more focussed in the first set and with a 14-9 lead, Samoilovs/Smedins continued ahead taking the set 21-17.
An outstanding run of points midway through the second set began with a huge Herrara spike, an ace from Gavira followed by a Samoilovs monstrous hit from the net. A long rally was to follow bringing the score level at 15-15 and the teams began to exchange points.Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Spain’s Adrián Gavira Collado
Herrera/Gavira closed the second set 21-19 before the heavens well and truly opened with a heavy downpour for the tie-break. In a challenging third set the Spaniards held out and the bronze was theirs, 2-1 (17-21, 21-19, 15-12).
“We’re feeling very happy, it was a tough week, we came from Xiamen also a tough week and we can get a bronze medal, it’s good. We will go to Spain happy. China gave us a lot of confidence for the majors and Grand Slams and to prepare for the Olympics,” said Herrera.
“It was a very strange game, we started too tranquilly. In the second we started with more drive, with more passion. The tie break was very tight. In the end, the details made the difference and we are very happy and now we really want to go back home and to enjoy this medals with the family. Pablo needs to see his daughter that he had two weeks ago and didn’t see her yet. So these two weeks were very tough for him, we won two medals and he earned it,” said Gavira.
The Spanish team go home with a gold from the Xiamen Open and bronze from the Fuzhou Open to add to their collection.
The Fuzhou Open women’s medals will be contended on April 24 with the FIVB World Tour continuing at the Fortaleza Open, Brazil from April 26 - May 1, 2016.