The United States duo also showed that indeed old dogs can learn new tricks, and Hyden and Bourne showed off a few wrinkles to their game as they eliminated fellow Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena with a 21-18, 21-19 victory Saturday to reach the semifinals of the SWATCH World Tour Finals at Polson Pier.
Less than two weeks ago, Hyden/Bourne scored only 20 points in a loss to Dalhausser/Lucena in the AVP Championships in Chicago on the American domestic tour.
In that match, the 6-foot-9 Dalhausser, the Olympic gold medalist in Beijing 2008, virtually blocked Bourne off the court. In Toronto, it took some adjustments and the 43-year old Hyden showed he has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Instead of showing patience for the perfect pass-set-hit, Bourne and Hyden went to Hyden on two contacts more than once. When Hyden sent the ball down to the sand early, Dalhausser and Lucena found they had to respect that play and Dalhausser never got into the blocking comfort zone he enjoyed in Chicago.
The attack was something they installed earlier in the day during their training session.
And with two weeks to lose sleep over that match, Bourne and Hyden came out with a resolve to beat the Rio 2016 Olympians. Even with that taste of defeat, and the fact that they had not beaten Dalhausser/Lucena in six previous meetings, they maintained plenty of confidence.
“Well, I could imagine it,” Hyden said. “It’s been proven that anybody can win on this tour, so we came in with – I won’t say high expectations – but expectations to play well. We felt good, everybody here has been to the Olympics but us, so this is kind of our Olympics and we’re glad to be where we at.”
Hyden/Bourne, reaching the final four in either a Major Series or FIVB Grand Slam for the first time in 2016, will face Olympians Pedro Solberg and Evandro Goncalves of Brazil in the semifinals.
“Finally we made the semifinals of a big tournament this year,” said Bourne, who is 16 years younger than his partner. “I’ve been dying to get here this year and expected to be hear earlier to be honest but just in time.
“This is our chance to go against the Olympians. We obviously didn’t earn the right to be there due to the country quota but we wanted to show we belonged.”
Dalhausser/Lucena looked like they were about to add another beat-down to the Chicago rout by jumping out to an 8-3 lead. Suddenly, Hyden/Bourne gained traction with their new strategies and took advantage of the good side of the court to rattle off a six-point run to take the lead in the first set.
They held the advantage to close out the set and they never trailed in the second, which was punctuated by a huge block by Bourne on Dalhausser that made it 19-17.
“They played well,” Dalhausser said. “We got off to an early lead in the first and they did a good job to come back. Tri sided out great, he didn’t make any errors. We just came up a little short.”
Dalhausser was able to come up with only two blocks as Bourne/Hyden stayed unpredictable with their attack to keep him off-balance. In Chicago, swing after swing was rejected by Dalhausser.
“It was in my head a lot,” Bourne said. “I’m just glad we got the chance to play them right away and didn’t have to go the whole offseason with that loss, especially me because I kept swinging and getting blocked. I knew the adjustments I needed to make. So I got my chance two weeks later.
“For me personally it’s not second-guessing myself when you get blocked like that. With something like what happened in Chicago, it creeps into your head and you can’t hesitate, you’ve got to commit and trust your game.”