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This Team Has It Down to the Second

Fuerbringer, Jennings are 0-4 in finals but could end streak today.

August 10, 2003|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

Matt Fuerbringer and Casey Jennings have been to four men's finals and lost four times, which makes them part of a punch line.

The running joke: They're the Buffalo Bills of beach volleyball.

They've managed to retain a sense of humor during what would otherwise be considered their breakthrough season.

They also advanced to the semifinals of the Manhattan Beach Open on Saturday by defeating Karch Kiraly and Brent Doble, 21-12, 21-16.

"I'd rather take this one than the other four combined," Jennings said. "This one's major."

Jennings used to be better known as the boyfriend of women's beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh. Now he's carved out his own niche as a top defensive player on the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour.

Fuerbringer, in his first year on the AVP tour after five years of indoor volleyball in Europe, has become one of the tour's top blockers.

Together, they're a tough tandem. If they could only win the big one....

They could get another chance today.

"You don't know how bad we want this one," said Fuerbringer, a four-time All-American at Stanford.

Fuerbringer and Jennings made quick work of Kiraly and Doble, Fuerbringer with his blocking and Jennings with his digging.

"Too bad that wasn't a final," Fuerbringer said.

Kiraly and Doble are still alive in the double-elimination tournament and can earn a semifinal spot by working their way through the contenders' bracket.

Canyon Ceman and Mike Whitmarsh clinched a semifinal spot by sweeping Scott Ayakatubby and Brian Lewis, 25-23, 21-17.

Four teams will play today to determine the other two semifinalists. Kiraly and Doble will play Eric Fonoimoana and Kevin Wong; Ayakatubby and Lewis will play Jose Loiola and Eduardo Bacil.

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