Jake Gibb catches his breath during his semifinal match on Saturday in Rome.
B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Phone: (719) 228-6800
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 16, 2012) – The U.S. men’s beach volleyball team of Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal earned enough qualifying points to secure a USA Volleyball nomination to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team on Saturday after advancing to the semifinals of the smart Grand Slam Rome in Italy.
Gibb and Rosenthal also made it into Sunday’s gold medal match in Rome.
Gibb and Rosenthal clinched The Chase for London with their third-round victory on Saturday over Latvia’s No. 11 Aleksandrs Samoilous and Ruslans Sorokins, 21-16, 18-21, 16-14 in 54 minutes.
“It has been a great week and a pretty good year,” Rosenthal said. “It has been a huge year and an emotional year. Every tournament that we enter we want to win and we have the opportunity here. We still have work to do and we are excited to play tomorrow.”
The U.S. pair went on to win its semifinal match over Switzerland’s No. 25 Sasha Heyer and Sebastian Chevalier, 14-21, 21-16, 15-10 in 52 minutes and will play Brazil’s top-seeded Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti in Sunday’s gold medal contest.
“I was feeling it in my legs,” Rosenthal continued. “I had a couple of cramps in my hamstrings at dinner. They are a good team. We were playing for a lot and it was a big match for us.”
Gibb (Bountiful, Utah) and Rosenthal (Redondo Beach, Calif.) went into Rome leading their compatriots Matt Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Nick Lucena (Santa Barbara, Calif.) by 200 points in The Chase for London.
Fuerbringer and Lucena also advanced to the Rome semifinals, but lost their match to Rego and Cerutti, 21-18, 14-21, 15-10 in 53 minutes and will play Heyer and Chevalier for the bronze medal on Sunday.
In the women’s event in Rome, the U.S. team of Jennifer Kessy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) will play in Sunday’s bronze medal match.
Gibb and Rosenthal opened play on Saturday by defeating Germany’s No. 15=seeded Sebastian Dollinger and Stefan Windscheif in the second round, 21-15, 21-14 in 38 minutes. Fuerbringer and Lucena also won their second-round match over Italy’s No. 10-seeded team of Matteo Ingrosso and Paolo Ingrosso, 21-18, 15-21, 15-11 in 1 hour, 4 minutes.
Fuerbringer and Lucena also won their third-round match over Czech Republic’s No. 16 Premysl Kubala and Petr Benes, 21-18, 18-21, 15-12 in 56 minutes, but once Gibb and Rosenthal won their third-round match, Fuerbringer and Lucena could not have caught them.
It is the second time in 2012 that Rosenthal and Gibb have reached a Grand Slam final after they took silver in Shanghai. Previously they have won gold at the Acapulco Open in 2006 and the Prague Open in 2008, but so far a first Grand Slam gold has eluded them.
Now under the guidance of 1996 Olympic Games silver medalist Mike Dodd the hope is that they can end that run.
“I think he completely turned our year around,” Gibb said “We were floundering around at the end of last year without direction and he took us in and absolutely changed our game. He really deserves a lot of the credit for our success this year.”
On the women’s side, Kessy and Ross, who have already secured enough qualification points for an Olympic nomination, won their third-round match over Germany’s No. 24 Karla Borger and Britta Buthe, 21-16, 21-17 in 36 minutes.
However the U.S. pair fell in the semifinals to Germany’s No. 10 Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig, 21-19, 21-17 in 45 minutes. Kessy and Ross will play Italy’s No. 5 Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti in Sunday’s bronze medal match.
The sixth-seeded U.S. women’s beach volleyball team of Misty May-Treanor (Santa Monica, Calif.) and Kerri Walsh (San Jose, Calif.), which has also secured enough qualification points for a 2012 U.S. Olympic team nomination, fell in the third round to Cicolari and Menegatti, 21-18, 21-15 in 41 minutes and finished tie for fifth.
Complete information about the FIVB World Tour is available on the FIVB web site.