All-American men’s final at the Berlin smart Grand Slam
Tri Bourne and John Hyden reached their first FIVB final in only their fifth event on the World Tour. The Americans controlled the game against former world and Olympic champion Emanuel and his new partner Pedro from start till end, while the Brazilians had problems in reception and finishing their attacks.
After winning the first set, the difference in the second part was even bigger. Bourne and Hyden leapt away from 3-3 to 10-3 and the Brazilians were not able to close that gap. At 19-12 Bourne scored another one of his great blocks to create the first match point. At their second Bourne scored the winning point with an attack on two.
“We had a game plan, it worked in the first match”, said Hyden. The Americans had already beaten the Brazilian team once before in the Berlin pool phase. “And we both played very well. We just kept playing, you can come back from six, seven points down, so we knew we had to keep the pressure on.”
“This is my first real year on the World Tour”, said 41-year old Hyden, who played some World Tour events in 2002, 2011 and 2013 with different partners. “It feels great, anytime you can make a final it feels great, especially on this tour. We are really happy.”
Hyden meets up with former partner
In the final Hyden will meet up with his partner last year, Nick Lucena. After losing the first set to Bruno and Alison, Lucena and former baseball pitcher Doherty came back from behind to win the second set.
In the tiebreak the Americans took a four-point lead straight away. Bruno and Alison levelled a couple of times and even took a lead at 6-5, but at the first American match point (14-11) Alison hit the ball out and gave the match away.
“We played steady towards the second game and the third”, Lucena said. “We stayed in it and Ryan did a great job of blocking and scoring points. He started jump serving and created what we wanted to do.”
The second semifinal was more entertaining with lots of rallies going on. Doherty’s length (2.14m) really seemed to bother Bruno in attacking and Lucena had some great digs and finishes.
“You know, he is seven feet tall and Bruno likes that ball kind of tight”, said Lucena about his partner since three events. “Ryan did a good job of pressing over. We were really fortunate.”
It is going to be the 15th time in 303 men’s World Tour events that two USA’s teams make it to the final. “We have both been in the qualifier and to come through and make it to the final, it’s fantastic”, said Lucena.