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Dalhausser and Rosenthal on the hunt for a ‘turkey’ in The Hague

Pool winners Phil Dalhausser (left) and Sean Rosenthal aim for three in a row in The Hague
Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, July 17, 2014 - America’s top players Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal are on a mission. After winning back-to-back gold in Stavanger and Gstaad they are on the hunt for a perfect hat-trick at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Transavia Grand Slam.

Or a ‘turkey’, like Dalhausser called it. “Like the bowling phrase, three strikes in a row.”

The 34-year old Americans topped their pool in Apeldoorn on Thursday with two wins and one ‘given’ win after a forfeit by Germany. Thursday evening they will travel to The Hague with only one purpose: another gold medal.

“Our goal is always to win the tournament”, said Dalhausser on the Marketplein in Apeldoorn. “We have won the last two and we are playing pretty well. So if we keep that level, then I would say we have half a decent chance to win.”

After a tough 2-1 (21-17, 19-21, 15-7) win over home team Reinder Nummerdor and Steven van de Velde on Wednesday, they also defeated Canada’s Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk on Thursday morning: 21-18, 21-18.

The first set against the Canadians was point-by-point, but in the second the Americans created a four-point gap at 18-14 to finish the game at their second match point.

“I thought it was a very close match”, Dalhausser said. “In the first set there was a lot of side-outs, not many real points, so it’s high level. In the second set there were more real points scored, but it was still a close set. We play these guys so often that they know us.”

Dalhausser is happy with their play although they were pushed by the Dutch in their first game on Wednesday. “Yesterday the second set went really bad for us, we made a bunch of errors. But then we refocussed for the third set and we had a pretty good set.”

German forfeit

Because Germany’s Stefan Windscheif had to forfeit due to an injury the Americans were declared pool winners without having to play their third pool match. Instead of playing, Rosenthal and coach Mike Dodd entertained the ball kids, Dalhauser answered questions from the audience and afterwards the team had a short training session on the Apeldoorn city court.

“Anytime you get a forfeit and you win the pool because of the forfeit I would say it’s an advantage”, Dalhauser said. “We got half an hour training session in and got to play a bit with the ball kids. So I would say it is an advantage.”

Dalhausser has been playing on the World Tour for 11 seasons, but did not stop in The Hague often. “This is only my second year. One year my partner got hurt in the week before and he could not play and years past I just don’t remember. Maybe we had AVP that weekend, I am not exactly sure why. Not because of the weather in The Hague, weather is not going to scare us away.”

Dalhauser, world champion in 2007 with Todd Rogers, and Rosenthal, his partner since two seasons, finished 17th in The Hague last year. Rosenthal also competed at the The Hague Open in 2011 with Jake Gibb, finishing 7th.

“It was not a great finish for us”, Dalhausser said about their 17th place in 2013. “But with the pool win we already bettered it. I would like to make it to the semifinals. And once you are in the semifinals you never know what will happen. Hopefully we can win.”

In The Hague the Americans hope to add a 7th team medal to their list, after winning gold in Gstaad and Stavanger and bronze in Moscow this year and gold in Long Beach, Rome and Fuzhou last season. Travelling with them to The Hague are Walkenhorst/Windscheif and Saxton/Schalk. Home team Nummerdor/Van de Velde finished 4th in the pool and are out.

Meanwhile Dalhausser and Rosenthal have really enjoyed Apeldoorn, one of the four host cities next year at the World Championships. Dalhausser: “It’s definitely a little different in the city centre, but different is good and the people here have been great.”

“I thought it was pretty cool”, Rosenthal added. “We played at 17.00 yesterday and there were a lot of fans out. It was cool to see something new and see how they think about doing it with the world champs next year. And yeah, I like it.”

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