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BEIJING 2008 : BEACH VOLLEYBALL

Dalhausser and Rogers to play for gold medal

August 20, 2008|K.C. Johnson | Chicago Tribune

BEIJING -- For the first time in his career, Phil Dalhausser claimed he was nervous before a beach volleyball match.

At 6 feet 9 inches, that covers a lot of nerves.

The reason for all 81 of those inches perspiring and feeling a little tingly today was simple: "If we had lost, I would've been devastated," Dalhausser said.

No sweat.

Dalhausser and Todd Rogers continued to place their opening-match debacle deeper in the past with a dominant 21-11, 21-13 semifinal victory over 15th-seeded Renato "Geor" Gomes and Jorge "Gia" Terceiro of Georgia.

The reigning world champions needed just 42 minutes to advance to Friday's gold-medal match against fourth-seeded Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes, who upset fellow Brazilians and Athens gold medalists Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos in the second semifinal.

"Every aspect of our game was on," Rogers said.

That's a stark contrast to their initial loss to the 23rd-seeded Latvian team of Martins Plavins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs, which denied Rogers and Dalhausser the chance to tie a 9-year-old beach volleyball record with 22 straight international victories.

The loss eventually proved fortuitous. It placed Rogers and Dalhausser, making their Olympic debut, on a path where they didn't face a duo seeded higher than eighth en route to the gold-medal match.

"It's something you can note and say we had a good draw," Rogers said. "There's an element of luck. But you ask anyone in the tournament and they'll say I'd rather have their draw than someone else's."

Gomes and Terceiro served as the de facto third Brazilian team since they became Georgian citizens to bypass rules limiting each country to two teams in the Olympic field of 24.

Frustrated by the Team USA's relentless attack, the Georgians were seen openly arguing among themselves and pounding sand in frustration during the match.

Dalhausser consistently proved a towering presence at the net, recording nine blocks.

"If he's going to play like that," Rogers said, chuckling, "I hope he's nervous as hell for the finals."

Guaranteed at least a silver medal, the American duo of course seeks more, particularly since, at 34, this could be Rogers' last go-around.

"We've got one more match remaining to put the crowning achievement probably on our careers," Rogers said. "It's fantastic to get there.

"But the reality is the final goal is a gold medal. I'd be surprised if we didn't have some jitters."

Dalhausser definitely will.

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