Golden finish for Floridians on home sand

 

American Nick Lucena (right) hits against Italian Paolo Nicolai in the Fort Lauderdale Major gold medal match

Fort Lauderdale, USA, March 4, 2018 - For three years, Floridians Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena have chased an FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour title on the beach where they started their careers together.


On Sunday, as Dalhausser said, “Third time’s a charm.”

Dalhausser and Lucena completed a week in which they did not drop a set with a 2-0 (21-12, 21-17) win over Italy’s Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai to capture the Fort Lauderdale Major.

“It’s the one tournament I’ve wanted to win,” Lucena said. “It’s my hometown where I started playing. This is everything I’d hoped. We finally won. Phil played great all weekend and I played steady enough to keep us in there. There’s a lot of great teams on this Tour and to win is hard. I’m grateful.”

Faced with an early 4-2 deficit in the first set, the Americans rolled off seven consecutive points to take control on the way to their ninth World Tour victory together. For Dalhausser, it was his 38th career victory internationally.


More than 5,000 fans were in attendance on Sunday for the men's medal matches on the centre court at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park with more than 1,000 waiting outside the stadium to gain entrance

“I feel pretty darn good to say the least,” Dalhausser said. “Nick and I played great all weekend and we were just super steady. The Italians were tough, they were able to do a little better in the second there. It was close to the end and we ended up winning. Great feeling.”

Nicolai and Lupo, the European champions and Rio 2016 silver medallists, were looking for their sixth World Tour title together but ultimately were denied by the presence at the net of Dalhausser, who had six blocks and changed many shots.

“We are so proud to play in the finals of this kind of tournament,” Nicolai said. “All week we played great matches but today they deserved to win, they played much better than us. They played amazing all week and they played amazing today. The big difference was the service from the two teams. In the second set we tried to receive some good balls, but they played better than us. They did everything better than us.”

The Americans had four aces, with three coming from Lucena.

“We served tough, I thought we got them out of system a little bit and if that team’s in system, they’re hard to stop so we did a good job of serving tough,” Lucena said. “They scramble, and they make plays, but Phil was the difference-maker. He had more blocks than Nicolai did.”

Dalhausser and Lucena shared the $40,000 top prize and Nicolai and Lupo will split $32,000.

Just before the teams took to the court, Latvia’s Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs defeated Brazil’s Pedro Solberg and George Wanderley, 2-0 (21-17, 21-17), to capture the bronze medal. It was their highest finish since they captured bronze in the 2016 Long Beach Grand Slam.

That came on the heels of Fernanda Alves and Barbara Seixas capturing the women’s gold medal on Saturday with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-13) victory over fellow Brazilians Taiana Lima and Carol Horta.