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Apr 21 U.S. Men's Beach Teams to Play for Gold in Brazil

April 21, 2012, 6:30 p.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: (719) 228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 21, 2012) – The U.S. men's beach volleyball teams of Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers along with Matt Fuerbringer and Nick Lucena will play each other for the gold medal on Sunday at the Brasilia Open in Brazil, the opening event of the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour.

Both teams had to fight their way through the consolation bracket to make it to Sunday’s championship match. It will be just the fourth time in 34 international events held in Brazil, and first since 1991, that there will be an all-American final. The final is scheduled to start at 7:20 a.m. PT.

Since losing in the second round on Thursday, Dalhausser (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and Rogers (Santa Barbara, Calif.) have now won six straight matches and have a 7-1 record here heading into Sunday’s finale.

Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Lucena (Santa Barbara, Calif.), seeded fourth, lost in the third round on Friday and have a 6-1 record in this tournament.

On the FIVB SWATCH World Tour, Dalhausser and Rogers have a 5-1 record against Fuerbringer and Lucena although Fuerbringer and Lucena won their last meeting on Aug. 4 in two sets in pool play in Austria at the 2011 Klagenfurt Grand Slam.

In Saturday’s semifinals, played before a raucous, overflow crowd of 6,000, Fuerbringer and Lucena came from behind in three sets to defeat Spain’s fifth-seeded Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera, 13-21, 21-18, 15-13 in 56 minutes.

In the second semifinal, top-seeded Dalhausser and Rogers came from behind to overcame Brazil’s third-seeded Ricardo Santos and Pedro Cunha, 24-26, 21-13, 15-10 in 59 minutes.

Frequently quieting the home-country crowd in the second semifinal with a well-executed game plan while limiting mistakes, Dalhausser and Rogers battled back and forth with Ricardo and Cunha in the first set where there were 17 ties and three lead changes. Brazil scored first in the deciding third set, but the Americans went ahead to stay a 3-2 maintaining, gradually pulling away, ending when Ricardo’s serve went long.

Dalhausser and Rogers, the 2008 Olympic champions, are playing in their 50th FIVB SWATCH World Tour event as a team and have made it to their 38th final four. They have played in 28 gold medal matches, winning 21.

"We made some mistakes in the first set and they took advantage, especially when we had set point three times," Rogers said. "We really should have won the first set, but we made up for it in the second and third sets with some very good overall play. We've gotten better as the tournament has gone on and we survived three matches today so we are looking forward to only one match tomorrow.

"I think one of the strengths of our team is that we know each other well and overcome the difficult moments in the sand. Usually teams lose their rhythm and do not recover. We try not to give up and keep a balance in the game. I have been playing around Matt (Fuerbringer) for over 20 years and we know each other’s game very, very well. It will be great playing them again."

Fuerbringer and Lucena started slow in the first semifinal. After losing the first set by a wide margin, the U.S. team changed its serving strategies and concentrated more on passing and setting to keep the Spaniards at bay in the second and third sets. Fuerbringer and Lucena were in the contender’s bracket and had to win two earlier matches Saturday before meeting Gavira/Herrera in their third match of the day.

"We were very tired after three matches but when the third match is a semifinal, you have to put yourself in the show," Fuerbringer said. "In the third set, we came in with much more energy, ready to win. For us, this win is very important because we are still in the race for the second spot for the United States in the Olympics. Each tournament is crucial as is each match. Tomorrow our only expectation is to win no matter who we play, but we always love to play fellow Americans like Phil and Todd."

USA's Fuerbringer and Lucena have played in 24 world tour events as a team and have made it to their fifth final four without a gold medal but they do have two silver medals as a tandem. Individually, their best finish in the Brasilia Open was fifth place last year. Fuerbringer has played in 61 FIVB events and Lucena has been in 35.

Dalhausser and Rogers advanced to their semifinal match on Saturday first by beating Brazil's second-ranked Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego by forfeit. Cerutti was injured while retrieving an errant ball on center court. Trailing 15-17 in the first set, Alison crashed into the banner frame behind the first referee after keeping the ball in play, injuring his right forearm and was unable to continue the match.

In the next match, Dalhausser and Rogers defeated Brazil’s 25th-seeded Evandro Goncalves and Harley Marques Saturday, 21-17, 21-17 in 43 minutes.

Fuerbringer and Lucena opened Saturday with a 21-14, 21-12 victory in 34 minutes over Brazil's 16th-seeded Moisés Santos and Vitor Felipe, the team that sent Dalhausser and Rogers to the consolation bracket on Thursday. The U.S. pair earned its semifinal spot by defeating Germany's seventh-seeded Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik, 21-19, 26-24 in 48 minutes.

The gold medal winning team will split $30,000, the silver $21,000, the bronze $15,000.

Complete information about the FIVB World Tour is available on the FIVB web site.

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