U.S. Beach Teams Finding Their Way to the Podium

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | March 03, 2018, 10:30 p.m. (ET)

Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross hold the U.S. flag

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (March 3, 2018) – Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross won bronze on Saturday and Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena will play for gold on Sunday in a successful weekend for U.S. beach volleyball at the FIVB Fort Lauderdale Major five-star event.

The success in Fort Lauderdale has been particularly sweet as Sweat, Dalhausser and Lucena are all Florida residents.

Sweat and Ross opened U.S. play on Saturday by battling to a 21-18, 26-28, 21-19 loss to Brazil’s Barbara Seixas and Fernanda Alves in the semifinals. The Brazilians used a strategy of sending every serve to Sweat, but she and Ross would counter the move by sending the second contact back at Brazil (on two).

“Summer is one of the best on-two hitters in the world, so why not?” Sweat said.

In the bronze-medal match, they defeated Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider of Germany, 21-17,  21-13.

“We went back and completely refocused and let that one go,” Sweat said of the time following the loss. “I think a lot of people counted us out. They didn’t think we would be here. I’m just happy with how we fought.”

The team won $20,000 for third place. Dalhausser and Lucena hope to double that prize by defeating Italy’s Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai in Sunday’s gold medal match.

They qualified for that by winning their quarterfinal match against Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands, 22-20, 21-16. In the semifinals, they raced past Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins, 21-14, 21-12. Both players served aggressively and Dalhausser’s blocking dominated the Latvians.

“Our coach, Jason Lochhead, did a really good job of scouting,” Dalhausser said. “We’re putting them in spots where they don’t feel comfortable and that just makes defense easier.”

John Hyden and Theo Brunner came close to the semifinals, but lost to Brazil’s Pedro Solberg and George Wanderley, 21-23, 21-11, 15-13. Hyden and Brunner led the third set 13-11, but Brazil scored the last four points of the match for the victory.