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BEACH VOLLEYBALL

Blanton, Fonoimoana Continue Winning Ways

August 20, 2000|MIKE BRESNAHAN

The phone messages were numerous and never-ending, perhaps more apropos for a rising-in-the-polls politician.

Instead, they were for Dain Blanton and Eric Fonoimoana, beach volleyball players and, thanks to the events of last Sunday, Olympic athletes in the very near future.

Blanton and Fonoimoana, who clinched the second and final U.S. berth a week ago, returned from the final Olympic qualifying tournament in Belgium to find a slew of congratulatory dispatches from friends and family.

Their recent string of karma continued Saturday at the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals U.S. Open at Seal Beach.

Blanton and Fonoimoana overcame a sluggish start to defeat Canyon Ceman and Mike Whitmarsh, 15-11, in the third round.

They will face Lee LeGrande and Franco Neto in a winner's bracket semifinal today.

Blanton, a resident of Santa Monica, still seemed slightly overwhelmed by the concept of representing the U.S. in the Olympics.

"It's amazing to be part of the United States team and playing in a competition that is such an honor," he said. "We pulled it off at the last second. There was no tomorrow at [the Belgium] tournament."

Jose Loiola and Emanuel Rego, the world's top-ranked team, play Dax Holdren and Todd Rodgers in the other winner's bracket semifinal.

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