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BEACH VOLLEYBALL

Lambert's goals have changed

June 06, 2008|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

The pain in Mike Lambert's knee is starting to go away, but the pain in his heart might linger for a little while longer.

Lambert is making his season debut today at the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball tour's Hermosa Beach Open. He has missed the first six tournaments while recovering from a pair of off-season knee surgeries.

He returns "not quite 100%" he said, and with a new partner and a new set of goals after grudgingly throwing in the towel on the idea of qualifying for the Olympics.

"It hurts, I'm not going to lie to you," said Lambert, the 2004 AVP most valuable player and one of the tour's top big men. "I had to give up the dream and hopes of going to the Olympics. To think you're going to have a big summer and then have that taken away from you is tough to swallow."

Lambert and Stein Metzger, friends since childhood in Hawaii, teamed together before the 2006 season with the goal of qualifying for the Olympics.

They were in a battle with Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal for one of the spots and hoped a good summer would help secure it, but Lambert needed surgery for a torn meniscus in October of last year.

After a few months of rest, he tested the knee in an AVP Hot Winter Nights event in February and it didn't go well. A return to the doctor revealed that some cartilage had broken off in his knee. A second surgery was scheduled in March to remove it.

While Lambert sat out, Gibb and Rosenthal won an international event, earning enough Olympic qualifying points to all but seal the second and final American spot.

There are three Grand Slam events coming up, each one with bonus Olympic qualifying points, so Lambert and Metzger are not mathematically eliminated, but they are on consecutive weeks and Lambert said his knee probably couldn't take it.

Metzger, meanwhile, has been playing with Mark Williams. The two will stay together through those Grand Slam events in Europe in an effort to earn some extra money and make a long-shot run at an Olympic berth. Lambert is playing this week with Aaron Wachtfogel.

"It was definitely a disappointment," said Metzger, who played with Dax Holdren in the 2004 Olympics but didn't win a medal. "I thought Lambo and I had a really good chance to medal."

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peter.yoon@latimes.com

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HERMOSA BEACH OPEN

When: Today-Sunday. Women's final -- Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Men's final -- Sunday, 2:30 p.m.

Where: Hermosa Beach Pier.

Tickets: $20 general admission; $40-80 courtside.

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