|Ryan Doherty, right, attacks against Canada's Maverick Hatch on July 23 in Long Beach, Calif.|
LONG BEACH, Calif. (July 23, 2013) – The U.S. team of Todd Rogers and Ryan Doherty opened pool play in the FIVB Beach Volleyball Long Beach Grand Slam on Tuesday with a 25-23, 21-13 victory over Maverick Hatch and Christian Redmann of Canada.
It was a relatively easy win for Rogers (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Doherty (Toms River, N.J.), seeded No. 11 in Long Beach, and those have been hard to come by for the new team this season.
“I can’t say that I’m stoked about the way I’ve played,” Doherty said. “We’ve lost a lot of games in a lot of ways. But I definitely feel that I’m learning and I’ve picked up as much as I can from Todd and that’s huge.”
Rogers, 39, paired with Doherty, 29 and a 7-foot-1 former minor league pitcher who took up beach volleyball in 2008, at the beginning of 2013. Rogers’ former partner, Phil Dalhausser (Ormond Beach, Fla.), with whom he won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games, had announced that he would be playing with Sean Rosenthal (Redondo Beach, Calif.).
Doherty and Rogers opened the season with a second-place finish at the NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit event in Grand Cayman. Since then, Doherty and Rogers’ best finish in an FIVB event has been 17th, which they have reached five times, most recently at the FIVB Grand Slam in Gstaad, Switzerland.
Nevertheless, both Rogers and Doherty said they had a breakthrough in Gstaad when they defeated the Italian duo of Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo in pool play and finished first in their pool.
“That was probably the biggest win of my international career so far,” Doherty said. “What went right is that I actually passed the ball so that Todd could set it and that really helps.
“That’s something that Todd didn’t cover until the middle of the season for some reason,” Doherty added with a grin.
Nicolai and Lupo were the team that defeated Rogers and Dalhausser in the first round of elimination at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“It was nice to get a little revenge against them,” Rogers agreed. “That was our biggest win internationally this year.
“I think the last two weeks have been a bit of a breakthrough. Ryan’s passing is really coming along… That’s a big help for him because once he’s up at the net with a good pass, good set and everything in front of him, it’s going to be tough to stop him.”
Rogers and Doherty will get another shot at Nicolai and Lupo, seeded No. 6 in Long Beach, in their third pool play match on Thursday after playing Italy’s No. 27 Gianluca Casadei and Paolo Ficosecco on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s match is another that Rogers and Doherty probably should win, but for now they are just having fun trying.
“Getting to play one professional sport was a dream come true,” Doherty said. “Finding this and getting to play this, I’m definitely the luckiest guy I know.”
Rogers added, “Someone ought to kick you in the teeth if you say you’re not having fun.”
Ryan Doherty’s blog, which all beach volleyball fans should be reading, is available at http://ryan-doherty.com/.