The 2017 beach volleyball season opened with two American men’s teams battling each other for bronze Saturday at the Fort Lauderdale Major in Florida. Olympians Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena came away with the hardware, surviving a three-set battle with countrymen John Hyden and Ryan Doherty.
Dalhausser, a three-time Olympian and 2008 gold medalist, and Lucena breezed out of the round of 16 with a 21-13, 21-10 win over the German tandem of Markus Böckerman and Lars Flüggen Friday morning, setting up a quarterfinal center court encounter with Brazil’s Olympic champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt. The rematch of their Rio quarterfinal showdown began almost the same way as the Americans dropped the opening set 21-13, but bounced back to take the next two by 21-17 and 15-10 scores to move into the semifinal.
However, the quick turnaround from the dramatic match the night before found Dalhausser and Lucena on the short end of a Saturday morning 21-16, 21-19 decision to Brazilians Evandro Oliveira Jr. and Andre Loyola Stein, pushing them into Saturday afternoon’s bronze-medal match against their countrymen.
Working out of the round of 24 with a three-set win over Italians Alex Ranghieri and Marco Caminati, the brand new pairing of Hyden and Doherty downed Nikita Liamin and Viacheslav Krasilnikov of Russia 23-25, 21-17, 15-9 to earn a quarterfinal berth. There they dispatched another Italian side, Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai, in another three-set contest before falling to Brazil’s Alvaro De Morais Filho and Saymon Barbosa Santos 21-16 21-9.
Hyden recruited Doherty for this tournament a matter of days ago when his partner, Tri Bourne, had to withdraw.
Hyden and Doherty opened the bronze-medal match by taking the first set 21-14, but veterans Lucena and Dalhausser showed the grit that earned the No. 2 spot on the FIVB World Tour last season with eight podiums, including four golds. They leveled the match with a 21-13 second-set win, then pushed through to take the third set 15-10 for the medal.