Xiamen, China, September 26, 2015 - For SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals participants Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, it was “milestone” Saturday for the American players as the Beach Volleyball pair finished the day with a pair of match wins over teams from Latvia and Germany to captured the men’s gold medal at the US$150,000 Xiamen Open.
Seeded second and playing in their fourth FIVB World Tour event since rekindling their partnership in August, Dalhausser and Lucena captured their first international gold medal together by posting a 2-0 (21-16, 21-17) win in 37 minutes over seventh-seeded Markus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen of Germany to claim the top spot on the Xiamen podium.
With the Xiamen Open being the 14th men’s event on the 2015 FIVB World Tour calendar, Dalhausser and Lucena split the $11,000 first-place prize. Bockermann and Fluggen, who captured the season-opening event at the end of April in Fuzhou, China, shared $8,000.
"Awesome,” said Lucena, who celebrated his 36th birthday (September 22) earlier in the week. I’ve lost a lot of finals (six internationally), so this is very special, makes me love China. I’m very happy in winning by first FIVB World Tour gold medal. Phil played a great match and my team played very well. I’m proud of us."
"I didn’t know it,” said the 35-year old Dalhausser after the match in learning that the gold medal was Lucena’s first on the FIVB World Tour. “That’s pretty cool. I’m just happy that Nicholas and I are here and we got the first one."
While Lucena was becoming the 32nd American to win a men’s FIVB World Tour gold medal, Dalhausser was topping his 30th international podium. Only legendary Brazilians Emanuel Rego (78) and Ricardo Santos (56) have won more FIVB-sanctioned events than Dalhausser.
Prior to Lucena, Dalhausser won 23 gold medals with Todd Rogers highlighted by podium-topping efforts at the Gstaad 2007 FIVB World Championships in Switzerland and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The other six first-place finishes for Dalhausser on the FIVB World Tour were achieved with Sean Rosenthal.
To reach the finals, both teams had to defeat Latvian pairs early Saturday morning. Lucena and Dalhausser posted a 2-1 (21-17, 19-21, 15-11) semi-final win in 52 minutes over ninth-seeded Martins Plavins and Haralds Regza before Bockermann and Fluggen came-from-behind to defeat top-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins 2-1 (16-21, 22-20, 15-11) in 53 minutes.
In the all-Latvian bronze medal match, Samoilovs and Smedins scored a 2-0 (21-17, 21-13) win in 34 minutes over Plavins and Regza. Smedins and Plavins had previously played together on the FIVB World Tour with their partnership highlighted by a bronze medal finish at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
With their third international medal together this season after second-place finishes in the United States (Long Beach) and Russia (Sochi), Dalhausser and Lucena travel half-way around the world Sunday to perform next week at the $500,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals in the United States. The event starts Tuesday at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park in south Florida.
A non-points competition, the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals conclude October 4 where the winning teams in both the men’s and women’s event will share the $100,000 gold medal prize. It is the biggest FIVB event paycheck for a first-place team since the start of international competition in 1987 for men and 1992 for women.
As a “wild card” entry for the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals, Dalhausser will play in the same group (Pool B) as reigning FIVB world champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil. The two teams are scheduled to meet Wednesday on the Fort Lauderdale Beach Park stadium court at 3 p.m. Other teams in the Americans pool will be third-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst of The Netherlands, sixth-seeded Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst of Austria and seventh-seeded Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk of Canada.
Men’s Pool A will feature top-seeded Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson of the United States, fourth-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands, fifth-seeded Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Salgado of Brazil, eighth-seeded Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera of Spain and ninth-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy.