Top U.S. Beach Teams to Play for Gold

By BJ Evans | July 26, 2014, 10:02 p.m. (ET)

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LONG BEACH, Calif. (July 26, 2014) – The U.S. beach teams of April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings along with Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal have advanced to the gold medal matches at the World Series of Beach Volleyball, an FIVB Grand Slam, in Long Beach.

The team of Todd Rogers and Theo Brunner will play for the bronze medal.

Kerri Walsh Jennings
  Kerri Walsh Jennings attacks against Slovakia.

On Sunday, No. 1 seeded Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Walsh Jennings (Saratoga, Calif.) will play Brazil’s No. 5 Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas De Freitas at 12:30 p.m. PT for the gold medal.

No. 1 Dalhausser (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and Rosenthal (Redondo Beach, Calif.) will play Poland’s No. 2 Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel for the men’s championship at 2:30 p.m. PT.

Rogers (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Brunner (Ridgefield, Conn.), seeded No. 25, will play Germany’s No. 16 Alexander Walkenhorst and Stefan Windscheif at 11 a.m.

On Saturday, Ross and Walsh Jennings came back from a tough three-set second-round match on Friday for two easy wins on Saturday. In the third round, the U.S. team defeated Netherlands’ No. 8 Marleen Van Iersel and Madelein Meppelink, 21-16, 21-16. In the semifinals, they beat No. 14 Natalia Dubovcova and Dominika Nestarcova, 21-14, 21-16.

“I felt like we were in the driver’s seat,” Walsh Jennings said of the semifinal match, played before a packed house. “We had a game plan. We executed it against them. More importantly, with us, with our handling of the ball I think we executed better than we have in a while.”

Ross added: “I thought Kerri played amazing defense. That’s one of the few matches that we’ve played in playoffs where we split-blocked the whole time. She had a great read on them. We scored points because of it. That was key.”

Dalhausser and Rosenthal also had an easy time in their semifinal match against Walkenhorst and Windscheif, winning 21-13, 21-12. In the second set, Dalhausser served four straight aces to give his team match point at 20-10. Germany held off the loss with an ace and a block before a serve into the net ended the match.

“The last two times we played, those guys we won 15-13, 15-12 in the third set,” Dalhausser said. “They didn’t play their best match… We played well, too. I’m not going to take anything away from us.”

In Sunday’s final, Dalhausser and Rogers will face the Polish team that beat them in the gold medal match last Sunday in The Hague, Netherlands.

“I would love to beat them this week on home turf and get our revenge,” Dalhausser said.

Rogers and Brunner fell to Fijalek and Prudel in their semifinal match, 21-15, 21-19. Rogers and Brunner had to play in the qualification bracket to make it into the main draw.

I didn’t even think we were going to qualify partway through that qualification match,” Brunner said. “Then to end up in the semis… it’s bittersweet. It sucks to lose. I thought maybe we had a chance to force them to three, but we didn’t get it done.”

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