|Nick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser celebrate after winning a point against Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands at the FIVB World Tour Finals at Fort Lauderdale Beach on Oct. 3, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena made a convincing run at the 2015 Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals, but Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt proved to be too much in Sunday’s championship.
The world champions dispatched of Dalhausser and Lucena 21-13, 21-15 in just 38 minutes of play. The loss ended the Americans’ quest to win the prestigious event as one of two wild-card entries in a field that was otherwise made up of the world’s eight top-ranked teams.
The result also meant Cerutti and Schmidt claimed the historic $100,000 winners’ check — the biggest in the history of international beach volleyball history — while Dalhausser and Lucena earned $60,000 at the inaugural World Tour Finals. Brazil’s Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca took home the $100,000 prize check on the women’s side after beating Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst earlier in the day.
“We came out flat today and Alison and Bruno came out playing great,” Dalhausser, the 2008 Olympic champion with former partner Todd Rogers, said. “They are hard to beat when they are on top of their game. We will learn from this match and we will be back. We will grow from it and we look forward to playing again.”
The Americans, who reunited this summer after splitting as partners in 2005, defeated the same Brazilian team in pool play last week. But on Sunday, in front of a crowd that was overwhelmingly in the Brazilians’ favor at the 4,000-seat Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, Cerutti and Schmidt played like their No. 1 world ranking shows.
“They were the better team today and it showed,” Lucena said. “We gave it a valiant effort, but you have to take your hats off to them; they played really well today.”
Lucena, a Fort Lauderdale native, had a sweet homecoming, despite the loss.
“It is always nice to come home to Fort Lauderdale and play before your home crowd,” he said. “I got to see a lot of family and friends and they were all here to watch me play.
“I just wish that we could have achieved a better result.”
Dalhausser said that even on their best day, Cerutti and Bruno are tough to beat. The Brazilians were this summer’s hottest team, having won five FIVB World Tour events in July and August, including the world championships.
“You have to be able to take them out of their comfort zone and we were unable to do that today,” Dalhausser said. “We could not get much going and they were real good at side out today. That is what happens when you are not at the top of your game and you are playing the No. 1 team in the world.”
Lucena said that the Brazilians were simply dominant on their serve and that made all the difference in the world.
“I thought that we missed a lot of our serves and they were real crisp in their serves and they just played real good volleyball today,” Lucena said. “They blocked us well and they forced us into making a lot of errors today. They sided out real well and they really handled our serves today.”
Dalhausser makes his living with his jump serve but said that he could not get it going Sunday.
“I just could not get into my jump serve today, they defended it real well,” he said. “They passed real well, and we could not get much going. I saw a real good team out there that really deserved to win and they deserve their ranking of number one in the world.”
Lucena said that the weather conditions, which threatened rain as it did earlier in the day, produced winds that affected the ball a little bit, but did not want to make excuses for losing to a better team.
“The winds were a little gusty and it made things a little more difficult,” Lucena said. “Not that I want to use that as an excuse, but we did feel the effects of the wind.”
Dalhausser and Lucena were the only U.S. team to get beyond the quarterfinals. On the women’s side, April Ross and Lauren Fendrick fell in the quarters while Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day didn’t advance out of pool play. The other U.S. men’s team of Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson — the only U.S. team to qualify for the event based on world rank, in their case fifth — also failed to advance out of pool play.
With the prize money, Dalhausser eclipsed the $1 million career earnings in international play and and currently ranks seventh on the FIVB tour in prize money. He also eclipsed the $2 million mark for career earnings in all tournaments combined.
“I would have rather won the match, but it is nice to hit certain milestones,” Dalhausser said. “This is really a testament to my playing partners and the fact that we were able to accomplish a lot as a team over the years.”