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Olympians Jake Gibb, Sean Rosenthal headline Manhattan Beach Open

Gibb and Rosenthal are seeded No. 1 at the Manhattan Beach Open, which starts main draw competition Saturday. After Olympics defeat, they won the season title.

August 25, 2012|By Baxter Holmes
  • Jacob Gibb and Sean Rosenthal dig for the same ball at the London Olympics
Jacob Gibb and Sean Rosenthal dig for the same ball at the London Olympics (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

The American duo is back beneath Southern California sunshine, playing more than 5,000 miles from London and the shocking Olympics loss they suffered this month.

But the sting of Jake Gibb's and Sean Rosenthal's early upset at the Olympics in men's beach volleyball did not stay across the pond. It still lingers, even as they start in the main draw competition Saturday at the Manhattan Beach Open, in which the duo is the top-seeded of 32 men's teams.

"London was hard and I'm still digesting it," Gibb said of his and Rosenthal's loss as the fourth-seeded team to a 17th-seeded Latvian team.

Coming off a fifth-place finish in Beijing in 2008 during their first Olympics, Gibb and Rosenthal aimed for gold in the 2012 Games. Instead, their defeat ensured another fifth-place finish.

But right after London, Gibb and Rosenthal played in Poland and placed high enough (fourth) to win the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour point championship, becoming only the third U.S. team to win the season title in the 24-year history of the tour.

"At least we bounced back," Rosenthal said.

The Manhattan Beach Open, part of the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series, is a chance for them to bounce back even more.

Gibb and Rosenthal have a good history in the event. The last time they played together in it was 2009 — and they won that year. A first-place win in Sunday's final would net them $11,000.

They will face stiff competition in the second-seeded team of Matt Fuerbringer and Nick Lucena, whom Gibb and Rosenthal had to beat to qualify for the Olympics. Another contender is the third-seeded team of Sean Scott and John Hyden, the men's duo that won at Manhattan Beach last year.

After the tournament, the 6-foot-7 Gibb, who is 36, and the 6-4 Rosenthal, 32, plan to play in tournaments at Cincinnati, Santa Barbara, Las Vegas and Huntington Beach.

"We're going to try to play every weekend," Rosenthal said.

As for the Olympics, their next shot would be in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

"I haven't set it as a goal and I haven't cut it out as a goal," said Gibb, who lives in Costa Mesa.

Said Rosenthal, who hails from Redondo Beach: "I do plan on trying to qualify for that one."

Rio may be on a distant horizon. But for now, the pair have earned $240,100 on the FIVB World Tour to help pay their bills, and they hope to earn even more back on native sand, starting in Manhattan Beach.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

twitter.com/BaxterHolmes

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