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Milestone gold medal for USA’s Lucena/Dalhausser in Xiamen Open

Xiamen, China, September 26, 2015 - USA’s Nicholas Lucena/Philip Dalhausser claimed their first gold on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour on Saturday after beating Markus Böckermann/Lars Flüggen from Germany 2-0 (21-16, 21-17) in the final of the Xiamen Open.

Following a pair of runner-up finishes at the Long Beach Grand Slam and Sochi Open, Lucena/Dalhausser finally fought their way to top of the podium in only their fourth FIVB World Tour event as a pair together.

"Awesome. I’ve lost a lot of finals, so this is very special, makes me love China. I’m very happy. Phil played a great match and my team played very well. I’m proud of us," said Lucena, who had never won a FIVB event before in his 11-year career.

The Xiamen Open gold was, however, Dalhausser’s 30th FIVB World Tour title. The 35-year-old veteran has won 29 times on the FIVB World Tour in previous partnership either with Sean Rosenthal or Todd Rogers.With the Xiamen Open triumph, Dalhausser has extended his streak to 10 years with at least one FIVB title, the longest current streak on the Tour.

"I didn’t know it. That’s pretty cool. But I’m not really worried about that. I’m just happy that Nicholas and I are here and we got the first one," said Dalhausser.

The final started quite evenly as both teams traded points until 6-6. A couple of huge blocks from Dalhausser along with a service error by Böckermann then allowed the USA to go ahead at 9-6. From there on out, Lucena/Dalhausser held onto the 3-point lead before a Flüggen serve into the net ended the set.

In the second set, Lucena/Dalhausser jumped out to a 6-3 lead only to see their German opponents won five unanswered points to go up at 8-6. But the experienced Americans remained calm and tied the scores at 12-12. With Dalhausser upstoppable in attacking and Lucena efficient in defence, the USA then grabbed the lead again before clinching the victory on their first match point.

The silver medal in Xiamen was Böckermann/Flüggen’s third podium finish in 2015 after they won the season-opening Fuzhou Open in April and came second in the Rio de Janeiro Open earlier this month.

"I’m upset that we lost the final, but I’m getting more happy in the next hour, I think. The second place is big for us. It’s a big success for us," said Böckermann.

Lucena/Dalhausser had earlier defeated Martins Plavins/Haralds Regza from Latvia in the morning's semifinal 2-1 (21-17, 19-21, 15-11), while Böckermann/Flüggen came from behind to beat top seeds Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins 2-1 (16-21, 22-20, 15-11) for a place in the title match.

In the all-Latvia bronze medal match, Samoilovs/Smedins displayed better teamwork and stronger mentality to beat compatriots Plavins/Regza 2-0 (21-17, 21-13) in 34 minutes.

"It was a hard tournament for us. Four out of seven matches went to three sets. We’re very tired now," said Smedins.

The double-gender $150,000 FIVB Xiamen Open is the final point's event on the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball calendar. The event is being held at the Guanyinshan Gold Beach in the Siming District of the Fujian Province. The winning teams in each gender will share the $11,000 first-place prize.

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