Aug. 22, 2008
Story courtesy of Associated Press.
BEIJING, China - Phil Dalhausser blocked out the score, the sun and the sounds of the crowd that danced for Brazil while samba music shook the Olympic beach volleyball venue for the gold medal game.
Then he blocked just about everything else.
Rejecting four straight shots in the decisive set of the final on Friday to turn a tight match into a blowout, Dalhausser did it again on the championship point to give the Americans the sport's first Olympic gold medal sweep.
"I got in a zone, I guess," Dalhausser said. "I blocked it all out. It's just one of those things where you see everything perfectly and it all seems to be in slow motion."
Dalhausser and Todd Rogers beat Fabio Magalhaes and Marcio Araujo 23-21, 17-21, 15-4, winning their Olympic debuts in classic beach volleyball weather a day after Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor weathered a driving rainstorm to win their second straight gold.
It is the third beach volleyball gold for the American men in four Olympics since the sport was added in 1996. On Thursday, May-Treanor and Walsh continued a tradition that began when beach volleyball legend Karch Kiraly won the inaugural men's event in Atlanta with Kent Steffes.
"We're in good company," Rogers said.
The tallest player in the tournament at 6-foot-9, the bald bullet known as "The Thin Beast" had nine blocks in the gold medal match, including four in a row in the third set to help turn a comfortable 5-1 lead into a 9-1 runaway.
"When he gets on a roll, I just pull out my pompons and give a little cheer and keep smiling and clapping," Rogers said. "That's what good blockers do: When they get on a roll, good luck to you."
Brazilians in green and yellow wigs added a samba beat to the Chaoyang Park venue, while the Americans in the 12,200 seat-stadium had to make do with a few U.S. flags and a man in a red, white and blue Evel Knievel jumpsuit.
Dalhausser's bald head glinted in the sun, while Rogers wore his hat backward to keep the sun off his neck. In the stands, umbrellas were used for shade instead of shelter.
Earlier Friday, Athens gold medalists Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil won the bronze, beating Jorge Terceira and Renato Gomes of Georgia 21-15, 21-10.
Brazil, a beach volleyball power that won seven of the first 18 medals awarded in the sport, had designs on another gold. And Marcio and Fabio, the 2005 world champions, had been 5-2 against the reigning champs.
But Dalhausser blocked those plans, then rushed over and tackled Rogers, both of them tumbling to the sand.
Marcio and Fabio led 6-1 and 9-3 in the first before the Americans took a 13-10 lead and closed it out on their third set point. Brazil scored four straight points to take the lead in the second, then scored three straight to break a 15-all tie and needed just two tries to close out the set.
"Brazil is a very, very good at beach volleyball," Dalhausser said. "You can't be overconfident against a Brazilian team."
It was the second beach volleyball gold medal won by a Gaucho as Eric Fonoimoana, along with partner Dain Blanton, won at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
-- UCSBGauchos.com --