Jackie Silva uses the word forca , the Portuguese word for power, to describe how she and teammate Patty Dodd play on the pro beach volleyball circuit. But in any language, their style of play was enough to win the Huntington Beach Open on Sunday.
Dodd and Silva, the tournament's top-seeded team, needed all the forca they could find in the championship match against second-seeded Nina Matthies of Manhattan Beach and Elaine Roque of Santa Barbara. Using powerful spikes and serves, Dodd and Silva rallied from a 6-0 deficit for a 15-8 victory, their fourth in five tournaments this year.
Dodd and Silva finished with a 5-0 record in the two-day, double-elimination tournament at the Huntington Beach Pier. They split $3,780 in prize money, bringing their tour-leading totals to $9,338 each.
Silva, a two-time Olympian from Brazil, can count her money in English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and even a little Japanese.
When calling out signals during the championship game, Silva of Hermosa Beach and Dodd of El Segundo spoke Italian, just to confuse their opponents.
"Italian, Portuguese, Spanish . . . whatever comes out," Dodd said.
They also confused Matthies and Roque in other ways. After falling behind 6-0, Dodd suggested they begin serving at Roque, who struggled earlier in a 15-2 loss to Dodd and Silva in the winners' bracket final.
"They were serving tough early," Silva said. "But we remembered she (Roque) had a lot of problems with our serves."
Silva's jump serve, which has the zing of a Mike Scott fastball, kept Roque and Matthies from setting a return. Silva's five ace spikes had her opponents thinking, and blinking, twice.
"We knew we had a strong game," Silva said. "We just had to stay in the game."
Dodd, a two-time All-American at UCLA, said she and Silva lost their intensity during a three-hour break before the championship game.
After their victory in the winners' bracket final, Silva waited for Matthies and Roque to battle through the losers' bracket. She and Dodd's husband, Mike, the top-ranked player on the men's volleyball tour, played racquetball while they waited.
"Sitting around for three hours made us a little lethargic," Patty Dodd said. "We were anxious to play." Silva and Dodd have had that attitude since beginning their partnership this season. Silva has enjoyed success on the tour for the last two years, teaming with Linda Chisholm, a 1984 Olympic silver medalist, to win 18 of 20 tournaments they entered.
Chisholm and Silva split up last January, after Silva returned from playing in Italy. Silva said she wanted to break the team up to create more parity on the tour.
"I had a great time with Linda," she said. "She's a great player and we were really successful for two years. But I felt my game was a little tougher and I wanted to make a change."
So Silva and Dodd formed one of the shortest teams on the circuit. Silva is 5-foot-7 and Dodd is 5-foot-8 and they must rely on their agility and jumping ability.
"We're so quick," she said. "We move really well and we always listen to each other."
All they need to do is pick a language.