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Rogers, Dalhausser fire on all cylinders

Volleyball tandem ends string of near-misses, beating Gibb, Rosenthal in Long Beach final.

July 23, 2007|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

Todd Rogers had been replaying the last four AVP Pro Beach Volleyball tournaments in his head.

He and Phil Dalhausser had finished second or third in each of those, which wasn't bad, but not exactly the five victories in six events they posted to start the season.

So before the Long Beach Open final Sunday at Marina Green Park, Rogers approached Dalhausser with a game plan: Fire up!

It worked. Rogers and Dalhausser defeated Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal, 21-16, 19-21, 15-9, for their sixth AVP title of the season, but first since May 27 in Louisville.

"I thought we lost a little fire," Rogers said. "Particularly toward the ends of games. We were losing a lot of tight ones. So I told [Phil] before this match, when the end comes, let's have fire. And we did. In the third game we had all the fire and momentum going on our side."

Dalhausser certainly found a higher gear. He had three blocks in the final five points of Game 3, including consecutive blocks on the final two points.

"I needed those," Dalhausser said. "I was kind of struggling there, so I needed that."

The team also needed the victory. Since Rogers and Dalhausser last won, Gibb and Rosenthal had overtaken them as the top-seeded team on tour and had narrowed the race for the season-long Crocs Cup.

Also, Stein Metzger and Mike Lambert, who lost to Gibb and Rosenthal Sunday in the semifinals at Long Beach, had been on a two-tournament win streak, defeating Rogers and Dalhausser both times in the finals.

"They wanted to win because they were hungrier than we were," Rogers said. "They had won only once all year and we had five. After reviewing that in my head, I could feel that. That's why I thought we needed the extra fire and hunger that we had today."

Rosenthal, who had 22 kills and five aces, said he could sense the elevated level of play on the other side of the net.

"They were playing out of their minds," he said. "I thought we played pretty well, but they were just that much better than we were."

Next up is a stop on the international tour for the world championships in Gstaad, Switzerland. Both teams from Sunday's final are headed there, as are Lambert and Metzger, because the $500,000 purse is the largest in beach volleyball and, more importantly, it offers almost double the number of Olympic qualification points as a regular international event.

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