Men’s Long Beach final between Poland, USA
Sunday’s action on the final day at the stadium center court will start at 10 a.m. PT with the bronze and gold medal matches for both genders. The event being held for the second straight year in Long Beach, Calif. in the purpose-built site located on the sands of the Alamitos Beach adjacent to Marina Green Park on East Shoreline Drive. General admission is free to the event and VIP tickets are on sale through the event website at www.wsobv.com.
GOLD MEDAL PREVIEW
Saturday’s semifinal winners will now prepare for yet another significant test on the sand courts of Long Beach and it will be a rematch of last week’s FIVB World Tour gold medal match in the Netherlands.
USA’s top-seeded defending Long Beach champions Phil Dalhausser/Sean Rosenthal will be seriously challenged by Poland’s second-seeded Mariusz Prudel/Grzegorz Fijalek, who won their first FIVB gold medal last week in The Hague,, on the Long Beach stadium center court.
Poland’s Prudel/Fijalek has a 6-0 record in the tournament as does USA’s Dalhausser/Rosenthal and this will be the fourth meetings between the two teams. Poland’s Prudel/Fijalek have a 2-1 in the series between the two teams, having won the last two meetings, including last week in the Hague when the two talented tandems met in the gold medal match with Poland winning in three sets, 21-18, 13-21 and 15-13 in 59 minutes.
This is the second straight week for Poland’s Prudel/Fijalek to be in the final four as the earned their first career FIVB gold medal last week in The Hague and this is their 13th final four appearance in 59 career FIVB World Tour events.
Starting their partnership last season, USA’s Dalhausser/Rosenthal have won five gold medals and this is their eighth final four appearance in 16 career FIVB World Tour events. Individually, Dalhausser has 28 FIVB gold medals in 78 FIVB events and Rosenthal has nine gold medals in 81 career FIVB events. Both have been playing on the FIVB World Tour for 11 years.
BRONZE MEDAL PREVIEW
Prior to the finale, the bronze medal match will see Germany’s 16th-seeded Alexander Walkenhorst/Stefan Windscheif will contend with USA’s 25th-seeded Todd Rogers/Theodore Brunner.
A new team this year, this is the fifth FIVB tournament for USA’s Rogers/Brunner and first final four appearance as they started their journey to the final four by winning qualification match Tuesday to earn a spot in the 32-team main draw. They have a 5-2 record so far in this event. USA Olympic gold medalist Todd Rogers, 40, is in his 17th season on the FIVB World Tour and he has won 24 gold medals in his 119 tournaments. Brunner is in his sixth FIVB World Tour event and his best finish was a fifth this year with Rogers at the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open in Mexico.
Germany’s Walkenhorst/Windscheif, who also have a 5-2 record in this event are one of the talented younger German teams. Walkenhorst, 25, is in his fifth FIVB season with a best finish of second in Anapa, Russia in 2013 and is playing in his 21st FIVB event while Windscheif is 26 and in his 10 international season counting age group world championships with two third place finishes in 62 events.
With two home-country teams in the final four, the audience had plenty of red, white and blue to cheer about although the USA split their two semifinal matches.
In the first semifinal before another overflowing raucous sun-worshipping, beach-volleyball-appreciating crowd on the stadium center court, Poland’s Prudel/ Fijalek overcame another upset attempt by USA’s 25th-seeded Todd Rogers/Theodore Brunner, winning in two sets, 21-15, 21-19 in 38 minutes.
In the second semifinal, USA’s Dalhausser/Rosenthal played so well in defeating Germany’s 16th-seeded Alexander Walkenhorst/Stefan Windscheif that the home-country crowd on the Long Beach stadium center court was celebrating like a concert audience as USA won in straight sets, 21-13, 21-12 in 38 minutes.
In their dominating victory, USA’s Dalhausser/Rosenthal led from first whistle to last in both sets. In the second set, USA led 7-5 when they went on a 13-4 that included four straight aces by Dalhausser. Statistically for the match, Dalhausser record eight blocks, five ace serves and six kills while Rosenthal contributed 11 kills, one ace and three digs.
After their convincing semifinal victory that most thought would be much closer, USA’s Dalhausser commented, "The last two times we played those guys we won 15-11, 15-12 in the third set. They didn't play their best match. I think they might have been a little nervous; their first semifinal. We were fortunate for that... We played well too. I'm not going to take anything away from us... Poland got us that last two times. Hopefully we'll get them this time. Third time's a charm, right? They beat us last week in Netherlands in the finals. I would love to beat them this week on home turf and get our revenge. (On four aces in a row) I hit four really good serves. But when you're up by six points, there's no pressure so you can go for it. If you four aces in a row at 17-all, that's a little more impressive."
Rosenthal added, "This was definitely our best match of the weekend so far. It was their first semifinal as a team and individually. Maybe there were some nerves in there. We came out and played well. We were playing steady, not giving anything away. They gave a few (points) up kind of early. We put a lot of pressure on them and they made some mistakes."
Poland’s Prudel/Fijalek got early leads and extended them in both sets against USA’s Rogers/Brunner although the Americans did rally to make the end of the second set much closer than the first.
Prudel reflected after the match, “This is our first FIVB World Tour event in the United States.and it has been great for us. Today we got to play in front of a huge crowd and we were surprised to see we had many Polish fans. We also got to play against an Olympic champion like Todd (Rogers) in his country. We played well and except for the last rally they made, we kept them away from catching us. Now we get to play another even better American team in Dalhausser/Rosenthal who we just played in The Hague and it should be an extremely tough match like it was last Sunday.”
Overall, the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a $1,000,000 FIVB Grand Slam is a SoCal beach festival that includes 4-person and 6-person recreational events, a youth tournament and nightly music concerts. The event also includes live or same-day telecasts split between NBC Sports Network, Universal Network and NBC TV Network.
FIVB PURSE, TOURNEY TOTALS
The ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a $1,000,000 FIVB Grand Slam, is the 307th FIVB men’s tournament since its first event in 1987 and the 271st FIVB women’s tournament since FIVB began women’s competitions in 1992. Gold medal winning teams in each gender in Long Beach will split $70,000, silver will receive $52,000, bronze winners get $40,000 and the fourth place finishers will earn $30,000 of the $1,000,000 total purse.
The total entry list for the 2014 ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a $1,000,000 FIVB Grand Slam included 79 men’s teams from 29 countries and 60 women’s teams from 26 countries selected by their respective national federations.