Yesterday, the men playing in the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball narrowed the competition down to only four teams. Luckily for the majority of the fans packing the stadium and traversing the sand of Long Beach, two of the four are Americans. Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal defeated Jon Stiekema and Christiaan Varenhorst of the Netherlands in a very back and forth three-set match in the quarterfinals to advance. The No. 1 American duo is looking for its third FIVB title of the 2014 season, a number that would tie the 2013 Long Beach Grand Slam champions total number of victories from last season.
Theo Brunner and Todd Rogers also moved into the semis with a win over Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins of Latvia. That win guarantees a career-best finish for 29-year-old Brunner, while Rogers, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist, looks for his 24th international title.
Rogers and Brunner will face Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel of Poland in the semis this afternoon, while Dalhausser and Rogers take on Alexander Walkenhorst and Stefan Windscheif of Germany.
In the women’s tournament, which will pick back up with quarterfinals today, German’s Laura Ludwig and Julia Sude pushed Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross almost to the breaking point, with Walsh Jennings and Ross sneaking away with the victory 21-18, 18-21, 17-15. Team USA’s top women’s duo will now take on Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel of the Netherlands for a chance to advance to the semis.
Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat of the U.S. also remain in the running. They defeated Brazil’s Maria Antonelli and Juliana Felisberta Da Silva in a marathon of a match that went to 30-28 in the first set, with Fendrick and Sweat emerging on top. The Americans then took care of the second set much more efficiently, scoring the win 21-17. In the quarters, they now face the No. 4-seeded Liliana Fernández Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan of Spain.
The young duo of Summer Ross and Emily Day who so stunned the American fans last year by finishing fourth experienced a disappointing finish to their home country tournament, losing 16-21, 11-21 to Natalia Dubovcova and Dominika Nestarcova, a strong duo from Slovakia who finished third at the Stavanger Grand Slam earlier this year.
Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas De Freitas of Brazil, Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler of Germany, and Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy of Australia round out the women’s quarterfinals field.
Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson as well as John Hyden and Tri Bourne ended their Long Beach GS runs yesterday as well, both losing in the second round of single elimination play.
With two teams in each men’s and women’s tournament left to cheer for, we’re hoping for a record-breaking crowd on this gorgeous California Saturday. The women’s quarterfinals will start the action at 9:30 a.m. PT.