Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser will try to extend their dominance of the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour when they step onto the sand for the Hermosa Beach Open today at the Hermosa Beach Pier.
The duo has won three of the four tournaments this season and five of its last six, dating to last season. Although it's not the level of dominance that Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh have achieved on the women's side, it's equally as impressive because of the depth of competition in the men's bracket.
"It's no cakewalk out there," said Mike Lambert, who teams with Stein Metzger. "There are a number of other teams on our tour that are stepping up to the plate.... You got these qualifier teams, they come out swinging hard."
Lambert should know. He and Metzger, third-seeded this weekend, led the AVP standings a year ago, but that didn't help them in first-round losses to qualifiers at Dallas and Huntington Beach earlier this season.
"It shows the depth of the men's side," Dalhausser said. "There are so many good teams out there that you have to play your best every single game."
Second-seeded Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal have reached a similarly high level, but if you ask them, it's not high enough. They have been to the final in all four tournaments this season but have not won one.
Walsh and May-Treanor have won three straight women's AVP titles and 10 of the last 11, losing in the season opener this year at Miami. A win this week would make May-Treanor the women's leader in victories with 73.
They are still working out some of the kinks after switching coaches from Dane Selznick to Troy Tanner, but according to Walsh, the switch has helped rekindle their passion.
"It's fun to be growing as a team in different ways," she said. "You get that fresh set of eyes and he sees different things, so we're really excited to see progress in areas we didn't know we could grow."