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BEACH VOLLEYBALL

Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb win Manhattan Beach Open

The team defeated Matt Olson and Kevin Wong, 21-17, 23-21, for their first tournament win of 2009. Elaine Youngs and Nicole Branagh won the women's championship.

July 20, 2009|Bill Brink

Riding atop their fans' shoulders, soaked in sweat and champagne, chants of "Ro-sie!" carrying across the court, Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb lived it up after winning the Manhattan Beach Open on Sunday.

Gibb and Rosenthal defeated Matt Olson and Kevin Wong, 21-17, 23-21, in the championship. It was the pair's first win of 2009 and Rosenthal's first Manhattan Beach championship -- Gibb won with Stein Metzger in 2005.

"Sometimes it haunts even the best players out here," he said. "It's so tough to get and everybody wants it."

Rosenthal's net play and 17 digs powered the duo to the championship. After Rosenthal hit one ball so hard it ricocheted high into the stands, Gibb bowed in adoration while the crowd raved.

"Who knows? Maybe it will be on SportsCenter," Rosenthal said.

Olson and Wong played tougher in the final points of the second game, coming back from a 19-16 deficit to tie the score at 20-20.

"When it gets real close like that, anything can happen and that's why we put some extra heat on the ball and make them try to beat us," Olson said.

But Rosenthal closed out the final two points, and he earned the right to get his name on the Manhattan Beach pier.

The team credited their coach, Mike Dodd, with putting the tournament in perspective after they lost the first game of their morning match.

"He sat us down and he was near trembling, he was emotional, and he just said, 'You guys are acting like you have 10 chances to win the Manhattan Open,' " Gibb said. "I think he gave us what we needed."

To reach the finals, Olson and Wong upset No. 2-seeded Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, who had not lost previously in the tournament. Olson and Wong won 21-19, 23-21, 15-10.

"Phil and Todd is never a great draw," Olson said. "We just came out playing loose."

On the women's side, Elaine Youngs won her third Manhattan Beach Open and helped her partner, Nicole Branagh, get her first.

Branagh's spikes and blocks certainly earned it, as she and Youngs waltzed through the tournament without dropping a game and beat Jenny Johnson Jordan and Annett Davis, 21-17, 21-13, in Sunday's championship match.

"She was a monster," Youngs told the crowd after the match, referring to Branagh, who teared up on the podium after the match.

"It's very emotional," she said. "It's so cool to get this team on the pier together."

Branagh and Youngs have now won six Assn. of Volleyball Professionals tournaments this year. Youngs won Manhattan Beach with Holly McPeak in 2004 and with Barbara Fontana in 2001.

Youngs said Branagh's blocking was much improved, and it showed.

"I wanted to leave everything out on the court," Branagh said. "I don't want to have any regrets at the end, and I think we're both like that."

Olson and Wong advanced to the final four Sunday morning by beating Casey Jennings and Matt Fuerbringer in the contender's bracket.

Davis and Johnson Jordan beat Brooke Hanson and Lisa Rutledge to advance to the final. Hanson and Rutledge had defeated Michelle More and Suzanne Stonebarger in the contender's bracket quarterfinals to advance to the final four.

Also in the contender's bracket, Gibb and Rosenthal beat Sean Scott and John Hyden to make the final four, where they defeated Brad Keenan and Matt Lucena.

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william.brink@latimes.com

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