2008 Olympic Gold Medalists

2008 Olympic Gold Medalists
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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Take on Louisville

Things mostly went as expected in Louisville. Number 1 played number 2 in the finals. Minor upsets as far as seeding goes throughout the tourney though.

Jake and Rosy took second to Phil and I. As I said earlier, seemed like both teams were a bit unispired. Not a real high level game. Jake and Rosy were strong throughout the tourney. Lost one game to Dax/Wong but other than that they were mowing teams down.

Stein and Lambert struggled a bit again. Lost a really tight one to Casey and Mark. First time Casey has beaten that team ever. I think it was 15-13 in the third. They continued through the loser's bracket but then lost to Dax/Wong in the 5th place game. Did not see the game but Dax said that he and Wong were the beneficiaries of several throw calls. Some of them good calls and some of them a bit tight but he still would take them.

Ring and Olsen were slightly down from their seed (4). They took 7th losing to Furbs and Sean Scott. They were "upset" by the 5th seeded team of Dax and Wong in the winner's quarters. Not a bad finish for them but I am sure they would have liked to have finished at least in the top 5.

Dax and Wong had a great tourney considering they have not played together since 1997. On paper they are pretty strong and they proved to be strong in person as well. Good ball control, good blocker/defender and solid serving makes for a good team. They took 3rd beating Stein and Lambo and Ring/Olsen. Just lost to Phil and I and Jake/Rosy. Congrats on a solid finish to both of them. Anyone notice that Kevin Wong is quietly posting a really good season with 3 different partners so far. Kudos to him as well.

Mark and Casey turned in a fine finish and are continuing to get better. They took 3rd and I am sure we will be seeing them back in the final 4 again soon. Nice tourney gentlemen.

Anthony and Fred had a so so tourney. Slightly down from their seed of 7. They took a 9th place finish. I am sure they are gunning to crack a top 5 finish every weekend now after being there a couple of times.

Hyden/Keenan lost some tough matches to take a 9th. Lost to Sean Scott and Furbs and then Stein and Lambert. Tough teams to play and then end up at 9th. Could see them doing better this coming weekend.

Furbs and Sean Scott continued to improve their finish. Seeded 9th they took a 5th. Beat some good teams in Keenan/Hyden and Ring/Olsen. They continue to improve as well.

Lucena and Strickland took a 7th and are now looking to crack into the top 8 seeds and get a bye into the second round. They are right there and could use one more good finish to push themselves into that spot.

Didn't see George and Larry but took a solid 9th place finish. Could be a scary team if they get it going.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Louisville Recap

It was muggy but bearable in Louisville, Kentucky this past weekend. Phil and I had another good weekend in posting our 5th W on the AVP Tour.

We started off with a bye in the first round and then played Dain Blanton and Jason Lee. The games and scores were not very close. I believe the scores were 13 and 8. Phil had about 5 or 6 aces and I had 2 dribbler aces. That kind of set the tone for the match.

Our next match was the toughest of the tourney for us. We played Matt Furbs and Sean Scott in the winners quarters and eeked out a 2 game victory. The first game we were able to pull away and win 21-15. The second was a battle. We ended up winning 28-26 and were actually down 2 game points. We sided out to make the score 19-20 and then called a timeout to ice 'em and discuss what our strategy was going to be. We served Sean and Matt trap set him and Phil got a block. Next point we served Matt and Sean trap set him and Phil got a block. Then it was a sideout battle. I hit a ball out and they had a couple more game points. We were able to stave them off and take the game though.

In the winners semis at night we played the new and temporary team of Dax and Kevin Wong. The game started at 9:30pm. All kinds of bugs were flying around and it made it interesting swatting things all over the place. We went ahead in both games early and were able to maintain a solid lead throughout. Scores were 16 and 13 I believe. It was the best night showing as far as the fans were concerned. None of the games were very great but the stadium was probably 80 to 90 percent full.

In the crossover semis we played Casey and Mark. Mid game we were able to pull away in both of them. Phil was causing havoc with his serve. Scores were in the mid teens.

In the finals we once again battled Jake and Rosy. We were able to beat them by scores of 21-18 and 16. Not a very good game in general. I didn't think either team played very well. We were able to win simply because we were a little more consistant than they were and they made a couple of errors more than we did. Not sure why it was a lackluster game but I guess that happens sometimes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Next up, Louisville

I am probably the only person on tour looking forward to going to Louisville. Been there three times and have very fond memories each time.

My first time there was for a qualifier at the Brewery in 1996. I was playing with Dax Holdren and had just graduated from UCSB. I think it was in the beginning of July and the heat/humidity was suffocating. It literally felt like you were in an oven and you could not get out. I remember Dax and I took 4th and Kevin Wong and Jon Anselmo won the event. Matt Lyles drank pickle juice because he was cramping. Ended up getting sick all over the place but still took third I think. Fond memories indeed.

My second time there was when Dax and I won an AVP event in 1999 at the Brewery again. Beat David Swatik and Mike Whitmarsh for our second victory on tour.

My third time was back in 2005 and was for recruiting at the Junior Olympics. I was still coaching at UCSB and the J.O.'s were at the convention center. Drove down after an AVP event in Cincy with Ed Ratledge. We practiced together at the Brewery against some pretty decent locals. Then I had to sit in the gym for hour upon hour but found a few kids that were pretty good. Fun times.

Hopefully this time around will be as fun as all the other times. Phil and I look to make it three in a row. Doesn't look like the weather should be to much of a factor. If you make it down come say hello.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My Take on Hermosa

Don't really have a lot to say. I didn't watch very many matches due to the fact that I brought my 8 year old daughter, Hannah, down to the event. It was the first time she has gone to the event with me and we had a great time.

Jake and Rosy took a 5th as they lost to Stein and Lambo in the winners semis and then lost to Dax and Jeff. I did see some of the Dax and Jeff match and Rosy made some sick plays and hits. Jeff and Dax were just really consistant throughout though.

Stein and Lambo seemed like they were playing really well until they met Ring/Olsen in the crossover semis. I know they had a close game against Williams and Jennings but they should have won that in two games. They had sideout opportunities to win but were unable to sideout. Took it in 3 though. They were even in control with Ring and Olsen but I saw Ring get a few stuffs at the end of the game. I don't know if they were on bad passes or bad sets or just great blocks, as I was watching with my daughter from a distance.

Ring and Olsen had another great tourney. Congrats to them. They are now solidly the fourth seed.

Dax and Jeff played another good tourney with a 3rd place finish but Dax put it well when he said that we (players) are not in shape anymore for 2 day tourneys. Especially if you drop into the losers bracket. They were pretty gassed against us but did have a good victory and entertaining game vs. Jake and Rosy.

Williams and Jennings had some tough losses to Stein and Lambo as well KK and Wong. I think both were 15-13 losses in the 3rd. KK and Casey go at it with one another. I don't mean verbally, I think they have great respect for one another, I mean in the digging dep't. They have the craziest rallies where they each get multiple digs per rally. They finished at 7th.

Fred and Anthony took a dissapointing 13th after losing to KK and Wong in the 2nd round. Good 3 game match though.

Sean and Matt took a 7th with a loss to Phil and I and then Dax and Jeff. They continue to progress and get better. I didn't see the loss to Dax and Jeff unfortunately. I would have liked to see that matchup. They continue to play together and Sean is digging more balls than I am from the AVP stats. They pushed us the most in this past tourney as we squeaked by with a 22-20 win in game two.

KK and Wong had another solid finish at 5th. Almost took down Ring and Olsen. Started slow but picked it up in the second. Lost in the third 15-12 I believe. Wong is playing with Dax this weekend as both Karch and Jeff are out. They are seeded 5th I think and should be a good blocker/digger team. Reunited from San Antonio of 1997.

Stat of the week is Nick Lucena's defense. I don't think I saw him all weekend long but according to the AVP he had something like 101 digs in 9 games. If that is not a typo, that is amazing. The guy is a cat on defense but that is taking it to another level! Over 11 digs per game is unheard of. Wish I had seen some of his games. Nice grovelling Nick.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Hermosa Recap

Hermosa Beach was probably the single best tournament that Phil and I have played in our relatively short time together. We won 6 matches in two days and did not lose a game. We had never done that before as Phil pointed out in the media tent after the final.

We started off at 9am on Saturday morning against the qualifier team of Dane Pearson and Sam Haghighi and won 21-11 and 21-9. I was later told by the down referee that we sided out every single time we had a chance to sideout. Not to shabby. Dane is a guy that I have been playing against for awhile now and Sam is a solid qualifier guy. It was good to see Dane on the other side of the net again. Not that we are good buddies, but it is good to see guys you grew up playing against when I first came out to AAA tourneys and AVP events. A couple of weeks ago in Huntington Beach I saw Richard Boldt who I had not seen in years.

In our second match on Saturday we played Ryan Mariano and Brent Doble. Seem to be seeing a lot of Brent Doble in tourneys and always in the second round. This is the same team that we played in the Huntington Beach finals a year ago and they are a very good team. We played well in winning 21-16 and 21-14. We again sided out really well and only gave up a few points on some bombs for serves by Ryan.

In the quarters of the winners we played Sean Scott, my old partner, and Matty Furbs. First game they came out really sluggish. They missed their first 3 serves and really did not play very well as we won 21-16. The second game was totally different. Matt blocked me a couple of times, Sean scooped my line shot a couple of times and I hit a few balls out. We were fortunate to pull out the second game 22-20. I had a sideout for game at 20-19 but Matty stuffed my line. We sided out and then Phil stuffed Sean for game. The experiment continues and is still up and down but I think they are getting better. Will update more on that in My Take.

On Sunday morning everyone had to get up early and play at 8am in the morning. Our matchup in the winners semifinals was against Jason Ring and Matt Olsen. Last weekend in AZ we battled these guys twice as they lost to us in the winners quarters and crossover semis. This time was no different. The first game they were really good. They were siding out well and Jason was blocking me very effectively. I know at the timeout in the middle of the game I mentioned to Phil that I needed to pick up my sideout game as I think I had sided out all of 3 times without either Jason or Matt touching the ball. At 18-17 they sided out and then Jason stuffed me. The next play Matt scooped me but was unable to put the ball away and hit it in the net. The next two points were ours and we won the first 21-19. In the second game I was a much better sideout player and they struggled to sideout. Jason got in a bit of a rut and we took advantage of it to win the game and the match 21-11.

In the crossover semis we played Dax and Jeff. They had lost to Ring and Olsen in the winners quarters and made their way through the losers bracket by defeating Gibb/Rosy. They might have been a bit tired and combined with the fact that Phil and I were on our game, well it wasn't overly pretty. We won the match 21-11 and 21-12. Still a nice finish for Dax and Jeff and I expect more of that as the season progresses.

In the finals we had a rematch with Ring and Olsen. Phil and I felt good going into the match and I think for the most part it showed. We felt that Olsen might be a bit nervous for his first final and we tested him a couple of times in the beginning of the game. We scored a couple of points right away on a scoop/put away and an error. Matt quickly steadied out and we found ourselves in a battle. I got in a rut midway through the first game when we were up by 4 or so points and they made a mini comeback with a couple of blocks and scoops. I think the score was 17-15 at one point and then we pulled away to win 21-17. In the second the score was 10-7 in our favor when Phil decided to take over from the service line. He scored 8 straight points on his serve. Only one was an ace but he was bombing his serve and they were struggling to make a good pass. After that it was 18-8 and we just had to side out a couple of times. The end score was 21-12.

All in all a very good tourney for Phil and I. Hopefully we can continue to build on these successes and increase our confindence going forwards.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Next Up, Hermosa

Always good to be in Cali in the South Bay. Weather should be a lot cooler in Hermosa Beach than in AZ. Plus, no flights, only a reasonable drive to and from home.

First and only 2 day event with a full field 32 team draw. My opinion: that helps the higher ranked teams get the motor cranking against a qualifier team. Although being the #1 seed can be a great thing but can also be a tough one. I have seen it where a really good team enters a qualifier as the 60 something seed, comes through, and the top seed ends up battling with them. Usually that seed quickly becomes a main draw team. Hopefully that won't happen this week.

I am sure Rosie's Raiders will be out in force for the hometown boy. The local watering holes are usually pretty busy at this tourney. Look for the balcony at Hennessey's to be going off due to the Red Bull party going on up there. Last year was very nice up there.

Come say hello if you are at Hermosa.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My Take

Quick hits on the AZ tourney as far as how the other teams did.

Jake and Rosy were solid again. Lost early to Dax and Jeff who could be coming on strong but more on that in a bit. Came through the losers and defeated Dax and Jeff by similar scores to how they lost the first match. They continue to play well as they have made every final to date. The one bright spot on getting second everytime: you are really hungry to get first.

Stein and Lambo were upset in the quarters by Keenan and Hyden. This set up a 7th place showdown with Jake and Rosy. Jake and Rosy won the first 21-18 but the second was a battle. Stein had two pretty good swings for the game but was unable to put it away because of some great digs by both Jake and Rosy. The next two points went Rosy and Jake's way and Stein and Lambo were stuck with a 7th. Last time they got a bad finish they started slow but rolled to a victory. Can they do it again?

Sean and Furbs were upset by Kevin and Aaron in the quarters. Then they lost a crazy 3 game battle to Fred and Anthony. Overtime in the third. This team has struggled in the close games so far. If they win all the close ones they get top 5 finishes in all but maybe Huntington Beach. The experiment of 2 big guys continues this coming week. Cracks are showing though and of course there are a lot of little guys making a lot of phone calls to the two big guys.

Casey and Mark were upset in the second round and had to toil through the losers. Got a bad draw with Stein and Lambo losing in the quarters and took a 9th. This tour just isn't easy through the losers anymore.

Dax and Jeff were more true to their 2005 form then they their 2007 form. They took care of the nemesis in Stolfus/Wong and then gave a beatdown to Jake and Rosy. Got a better draw with the Hyden/Keenan upset of Stein/Lambo to make the final four. Once they got there it wasn't so pretty though. Jake and Rosy got revenge for their beatdown in the quarters by giving back the beatdown in the crossover semis. I will say Dax and Jeff are playing better. If they can build on that finish they should do well in Hermosa.

Fred and Anthony had another solid finish with a 7th. Lost in the second round to Hyden/Keenan and went through the losers before losing to Olsen/Ring. You would think it is just a matter of time before this team breaks through to the final four.

Ring and Olsen had a great tourney. They lost twice to us and took a 3rd. Battled some teams and came out on top in the close ones. Best short serve team on tour as Phil and I can attest to.

Keenan/Hyden again were good. Took a 5th with losses to Dax/Jeff and Ring/Olsen. Keenan is coming along very quickly and apparantly Hyden is a good teacher.

Lastly, the Wong/Aaron team had a great finish in their first tourney together with a 5th. I think one more win and Karch might have been out a partner for Hermosa. Congrats to them and when KK doens't play, this could be a great fallback guy for Kevin.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Glendale Recap

Phil and I had another good tourney. Bit of a change though as I had to do very little work and Phil really had to crank it up a notch on Sunday.

We had a first round bye to the 24 team main draw event. In the second round we played Prosser and Mayer who had defeated Loiola and Rester in the first round. The first game we grabbed the lead and never relinquished it and won 21-14 or so. In the second game they played much better. We had the lead in the end but I could not put some real point opportunities away as Prosser blocked me at least twice in transition. They came back to tie the game up at 19 all but then Mayer missed his jump serve and Phil had a net trickler for the match. Glad that didn't go three.

In our quarterfinal match we played Ring and Olsen, the 8th seed. After Miami I said this was a sick athletic team and I can only re-iterate that after playing them twice this past weekend. They served me every ball short and I had to work hard to sideout. I felt I sided out well though and we were able to take them down 21-16 and 17.

In the winner's semis we played Kevin Wong and Aaron Watchfogel. They had upset Sean Scott and Matt Furbs in the round before. They had been battling all tourney long having won 3 matches in 3 games as the 12th seed. Fortunately for all of us, the match was played at about 10pm at night under the lights. Both teams were well rested and Phil and I felt great. We won in 2 games with the scores around 18 and 16 or so. The Wonger is playing really well. Karch and Mike Rangel have rejuvenated him or something. Aaron is another young up and comer who I think will be a star in the near future. Especially once us old little guys start retiring. He will get his due eventually.

In the crossover semis on Sunday we once again played Ring and Olsen. As usual I expected to see every serve. To my surprise, I think I was served maybe all of 5 times for the match!!! It was hot and I think Olsen and Ring thought, "hey, let's serve Phil and make him sideout every ball, jump serve and then run to the net." They served him short every ball. They jumped out to a lead in the first game but we were able to crawl back in and win 25-23. In the second, Phil steadied out a bit more and we took that one 21-16 or so. It was a lesson for Phil that I am sure will be repeated at some time in the future. Look for him to be better prepared.

In the finals we once again played Jake and Rosy. They started serving me and Jake blocked me twice but other than that were not scoring points. Rosy hit a ball at 8-6 that appeared to graze the line on the way out. The ball mark was out and Phil and I requested they look at the ball mark and they overturned the call in our favor. We went on a 4 point run immediately following that. They then started serving Phil short and made a mini comeback. They got to within 2 or 3 points but then he sided out and made some big plays at the net to re-establish our 5 point spread. Final score was 15. In the second game they continued to serve Phil short and he really struggled. Jake was a blocking machine. He must have had at least 5 blocks on Phil that game. They went out big and we could never catch up. The score was 15 again but in their favor this time. In the third it was close up until the 8-7 switch. We took off from there and ended up winning 15-9.

Being one of the old men on tour, it was nice not to have to sideout every time. I think it was good strategy by Ring and Olsen and Jake and Rosy to serve Phil short and make him work. I don't know if that would work where the weather is a little bit easier to play in, we shall see at some point in time. Usually Phil is a sideout machine. Give credit though to Ring and Jake from a blocking perspective. They both blocked him really well.

Problem in Glendale

Glendale, AZ was not quite Tempe. Ok, it wasn't even remotely close to Tempe. It was way out in the sticks. It was set up in a blacktop parking lot. Had no shade or water. And what concerns me the most, it had no ambience and did not feel anything like a beach volleyball tournament. Karch brought this point up to me and I feel it is incredibly valid. Miami was in a parking lot. Dallas was in a parking lot. Glendale too. I am concerned about Tampa and Atlanta as I believe they are parking lot events too. I have raised this with the AVP and although it is at the bottom of the radar, I hope that myself and other players can make it enough of an issue that it gets dealt with in some way, shape or form by next year. I would never take my family to the Glendale event as it stands right now. I would not go. Please way in with good ideas if you like. How can you make a Parking Lot event into a beach volley event? Is it possible?

Monday, May 14, 2007

My Response to Comments

I have to respond to the RR comment first.

I didn't want to use the term "choke" as I felt it was disrespectful to Jake and Rosy. They played better than we did and that is the bottom line.

Secondly, I won't delve into the trash talking and bashing of other players. It is not my style and you won't find me doing such on this blog. That being said, anyone that wants to post that kind of stuff on my BLOG is welcome to do so. Just don't expect me to engage in it as well.

Lastly, Jake and Rosy had one win and two losses against us on the FIVB tour. They did have a better overall year in my opinion though. By the way, is this Meathead?

Arsenal - Wanted to respond to some of your questions.
1. FIVB/AVP conflicts. Phil and I are only planning on missing Chicago to play in Austria. Other than that event, we will be playing in all of the AVP events.
2. Man Made vs. Real Beaches - I like to play on a real beach period. Hermosa and MB are great to play on and easy on the body. Most of the man made beaches are hard packed surfaces and work the muscles and joints pretty good. Places like Huntington Beach and Santa Barbara's West Beach are pretty hard packed even though being on a true beach. This past weekend was good jumping sand but not overly hard packed. It is tough to make a man made beach similar to a real beach but so far this year the AVP has done a good job.

I will do my best to respond to comments as I have time. Thanks for the comments.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Should be a scorcher in Glendale, AZ this coming weekend. Temps supposed to be above 100 degrees every single day we are there. Fortunately the weather has been pretty warm in SOCAL lately and has been very close to 100 degrees where I live. Plus it is a dry heat rather than the strength sapping humidity of the East Coast and South.

Back to a 24 team draw which I do not like at all. I would rather have a 16 or 32 team draw. Giving a good team like the 16th or 17th seed that warm-up game to play is an advantage rather than a disadvantage. They get to feel the wind, sand ect... where as the top 8 seeds go in cold. Of course, that extra game sucks if they win and then lose the next one. Every extra game in this kind of heat is going to make it that much tougher.

No predictions for this tourney. Not sure what to expect from the new venue. Tempe was always a great site. Location was near the airport and there was the little water park to cool off in on the hot days. Plus grassy areas to lounge in. I think we are in another parking lot but then again, Phil and I are two for two on parking lots. Hopefully we can repeat in AZ.

If you are out there, please come and say hello.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

My Take on Huntington Beach

First off, I want to say thank you to all those people who have made comments on this blog. Dave from SD, Arsenal, and everyone else, I appreciate the feedback and it helps me as well. Also, to the guy who said I missed on the Stein and Lambo call, I beg to differ. When you made the call you were almost right, but in the end, I think I called it right. Sorry, have to give myself a little pat on the back for that one.

As for Huntington: Phil and I were pretty solid until the money was literally on the line. Then we crumbled like Feta. Hopefully we can bounce back in Glendale, AZ. Always nice in the beginning of the year as you have a lot of tourneys to bounce back on if you do poorly.

Stein and Lambo were awful that first game. I kept peeking to see what was up. The other guys were really lucky as well. In the third game alone they had at least 3 if not 4 dribble over the tape on either serves or hits. It wasn't Stein and Lambo's day. As often happens though, you get on a role and everything goes back to hunky dorry. That is what they did. They started playing better and better as the tourney rolled on and they took it all the way to the victory stand. Impressive to say the least.

Jake and Rosy were again very good and made it to the finals. I think physically they just overpower most of the teams out there. Any team can of course get on a run, but I think they more than anyone else, can just flat out overpower teams. From what I hear, they too struggled when the big money was on the line in the finals. Truth be told, I didn't watch a lot of it as I was still stinging from our loss to them.

Sean and Matt again struggled with a 25th. I saw there first loss against my former setter at UCSB, Dane Jensen and his partner. Great win for the quali guys and really bad loss for Sean and Matt. Many more finishes like that and I don't see them staying together regardless of their desire to play on the Olympic stage. It was really windy in Huntington and I think that may have had something to do with the losses. I will say that they did not play very well against Dane Jensen and Dane and partner played extremely well. I still think this team will be good, but they are going to take some lumps. So far, one good tourney and 2 bad tourneys for them. If this trend continues, they should do well in AZ.

Mark and Casey took a 9th. Semi-upset vs. Nick and Billy and then a tough loss to Karch/Wong. From all accounts, the Karch game was a great game to watch as both Casey and Karch were digging machines. Look for Casey and Mark to continue to climb the rankings and seed ladder.

Dax and Jeff took a 9th. Upset by Wong/Stolfus in 3 tight games. Then upset by Medel and Fred. Didn't see the games but you gotta win the tight games on this tour. Medel and Fred could very easily have served them off the court too.

Ring and Olsen had an off week. Upset in the first round and then victims of the Stein and Mike train through the losers. Took a 13th I think.

Medel and Fred had a good tourney outside of our game vs. them. I think they gamed it through with a 5th place finish. Took down Dax/Jeff and won the games they should have.

Not so good for Ryan and Larry. Leave it at that and expect them to better next week.

Great tourney by Nick and Billy. Nick is playing great volleyball. Serving the snot out of the ball and quick as a cat on defense. Billy is coming along and will only get better. If one of the top teams doesn't break up and try and break this team up, they will be really solid by the end of the year.

Another solid outing by Karch and Wong. Karch won't be playing in AZ but I think he will be announcing. Karch was a digging machine again and Wong played solid from what I saw.

Lastly, Hyden and Keenan were very good and benefitted from first round losses of Stein/Mike and Ring/Olsen. Nonetheless, they defeated Jake and Rosy in the winners semifinals. Great tourney by them and congrats to them. Especially John. He has had a rough year so far and I expect he will continue his solid play. Keenan is another big guy with lots of potential who continues to work on filling that potential up.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Tripping into $100K

Rarely does it happen that you fail as miserably as Phil and I did in Huntington Beach and still get the pot at the end of the rainbow. God was smiling on us at the end the tournament on Sunday. Thanks to Stein and Mike, Phil and I were able to walk away with an extra $100,000 dollars as well as our 3rd place prize money. Certainly nice to pad the bank account this early in the season.

Huntington was chock full of upsets all over the board. You had the second, fourth, seventh, and ninth seeds all falling to teams in the first round. On top of that, the fourth and ninth seeds ended up taking 25th place finishes. Fortunately Phil and I were able to avoid that bug and win on the first day of competition.

Our first match was against Seth Burnham and Tony Pray, a qualifier team. They played pretty well but Phil and I were steady and were able to keep a comfortable margin throughout the match. Scores were roughly 21-14 and 21-16. Tony had some very good jump serve aces as well as some outstanding digs on hard driven hits.

In our second match we played the always tough team of Brent Doble and Ty Loomis. We played them in Miami and they gave us all we could handle. They did the same again. We won the first game 21-12 but the second game they came out and played very good volleyball. They beat us 21-19 on a missed serve by Phil. I didn't think Phil and I played bad that game, I just felt that Ty and Brent played really well. The third was a seesaw affair until the very end. We took a slight edge and were able to complete the victory with a 15-11 win.

Our quarterfinal match was against team jump serve in Fred and Anthony. Fred struggled to get the ball past Phil and find the court. Phil had double digit blocks and Fred probably hit 6 or so balls out. It was nice for me as they served Phil about 80% of the time. They actually scored a lot of points off of him but not enough to offset the points we scored against them. Final scores were 21-12, 21-17.

In our last game on Saturday we played Phil's old partner Nick Lucena and Billy Strickland. They are a good team but came out poorly in the first game as we took it 21-11. The next game they shored up their game. Nick bombed a couple of aces and had a couple of great digs. We pulled it out in the end though with a sideout to win 21-19.

In the crossover semis we played Sean and Jake and quite frankly played the worst we have played all year long. That is not to take anything away from Sean and Jake who played well. Phil and I were nervous and pressed for the $100K. We were doing things we normally do not do. We got outside of our normal game and instead of being solid and consistant tried to make the great play. We ended up losing 23-21, 17-21, and 15-12. Phil and I spoke about it after the game and he said he hasn't been that nervous before a match in years. I echoed that statement too. We didn't have a killer instinct to go after the game and instead were hoping that Jake and Rosy would give it to us. It was a lesson that could have been very painful in the pocket book if it were not for Mike and Stein's win in the final over Jake and Rosy.

Looking back at that loss it is clear that Phil and I have to improve our mindset when it comes to a game with a lot of pressure on it. This is going to happen in major FIVB events as well as if we do make the Olympics. Playing for a gold medal will be a heck of a lot more nerve racking than playing for $100,000. We have to figure out a way to become calm and focused and enter the "zone" rather than remain frenetic over the course of the game. The only real highlight of that match for us was Phil's siding out. I felt he sided out well. He did not block well and his serving was all over the map. I basically didn't do anything at all. My sideout game was average at best and my defense was utterly terrible. My serving was in the court but not notably tough for the most part. Lots to build on if I want to look at it in a positive light.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

AVP.com: $100K at stake on the sand, Cuervo Triple Crown comes down to this weekend

$100K at stake on the sand
Cuervo Triple Crown comes down to this weekend

By Mike Scarr / AVP.com

The AVP Crocs Tour is heading back West this weekend, marking the first tournament of the 2007 season in Southern California.

That would be the Cuervo Gold Crown Huntington Beach Open, the final event in the Jose Cuervo triple crown series, which opens Thursday. At stake is a $100,000 bonus for each of the men's and women's teams that claim the top spot in the Cuervo standings.

"The added incentive of the Cuervo bonus will certainly make that a plus, because it can set you up for a pretty good year," said Todd Rogers, who, along with Phil Dalhausser, comes to town as the defending champion. "After that we'll be playing some smaller tournaments, when the prize money is not as much."

The Gold Crown events were sprinkled throughout the season in previous years but the plan this season was to kick off the campaign with the first three tournaments.

"We grouped them all at the front of the year, culminating in the Cinco de Mayo (weekend) which we call 'Cuervo de Mayo' to give it a bigger impact," said Jose Cuervo director of marketing Scott Geisler, adding the company will get continued exposure during the year with the Ultimate Beach Girl and Guy contest.

Rogers and Dalhausser have won the first two tournaments this season, besting Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal on both occasions: two weeks ago in Dallas and the season's inaugural event in Miami.

With a first- or a second-place finish this weekend, Rogers and Dalhausser will win the bonus, but Gibb and Rosenthal are solidly in the hunt. If they win and Rogers and Dalhausser finish no better than third, Gibb and Rosenthal would take the extra cash.

The situation is equally close on the women's side of the draw.

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh tossed aside the disappointment of Miami, where they were eliminated in the semi-finals by eventual champions Elaine Youngs and Nicole Branagh.

If May-Treanor and Walsh can pull out a win this weekend in Huntington Beach, where they are defending champs, and Youngs and Branagh place no higher than third, they will win the Cuervo bonus.

Youngs and Branagh can clinch the triple crown, though, by winning the tournament outright or placing second.

While May-Treanor and Walsh got back on track in Dallas, the No. 1-seeded men's duo of Stein Metzger and Mike Lambert dropped two straight matches to open the proceedings and finished in a tie for 17th in Texas.

Rogers said he was shocked at their result but would not view that as a trend and expects them to hit the Huntington sand with something to prove.

"I think it was an aberration. I don't see it happening again, not that it can't," Rogers said. "I see every team having a bad weekend. I think, not only did they have a bad weekend, but I also think the teams had some career games."

Play will start at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, 9:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 9:45 on Sunday. All times are Pacific.

By the numbers: The first Huntington Beach Open was held in 1975 with Jim Menges and Greg Lee as titlists. The women held there first tournament there in 1989 as Patty Dodd and Jackie Silva took the crown. ... May-Treanor is two shy of Holly McPeak's record of 72 individual victories. ... McPeak has the most Huntington titles with four.

Multimedia: Both finals will stream live on avp.comTV. FSN Prime Ticket will have a delayed broadcast on Sunday, May 6, at 8:00 p.m. PT. FSN will then repeat the women's final Tuesday, May 8 and the men's final Saturday, May 12.

Format: The Huntington Beach Open will have a 68-team qualifier, both men's and women's, with eight teams advancing to the 32-team main draw. Action will take place south of the Huntington Beach Pier on 13 courts.

Set your clocks: The men's final will be Sunday, May 6, at 2:30 p.m. PT with the women's final to commence 30 minutes after the men's, approximately 4:00 p.m. PT.

AVP.com: Rogers feels team hasn't peaked, AVP's top duo looks for improvement

April 30, 2007

Rogers feels team hasn't peaked
AVP's top duo looks for improvement

By Mike Scarr / AVP.com

As Todd Rogers sees it, he and partner Phil Dalhausser haven't yet peaked.

Recent performances may suggest otherwise as the pair have won the first two events on this year's AVP calendar, but Rogers strives to peak for the bigger midsummer tournaments. That tactic will be particularly important this year which will also include qualifying events for next summer's Olympic Games in Beijing.

Still, Rogers and Dalhausser, a team that reeled off eight tournament victories last season, is 2-0 in 2007 and they're doing what any good team has to do.

"Take a look at our scores; we're squeaking by," Rogers said. "With the exception of the finals, which in both we played very good volleyball, we're winning by scores like 26-24 and 21-19."We're not obliterating teams a la Kerri (Walsh) and Misty (May-Treanor) but we're winning the close ones, which is huge and that is why we are where we're at because we've managed to pull off the close ones."

Rogers can feel pretty good about the early success that he and Dalhausser have enjoyed this season, though. He was a two-time All-America at UC Santa Barbara, where he refined the value of setting goals. With their early victories, Rogers and Dalhausser have eclipsed the first goal and have placed the second goal of matching last season's tally within reach.

The third goal of utterly dominating and winning 18-25 tournaments in the 2007 campaign (including those on both the AVP and FIVB circuits) is unrealistic, Rogers admits, but it nonetheless helps to maintain the team's focus over the long season. Rogers said the mental grind can be as tough as the physical aspect of the sport and marvels at those that maintain their edge.

"I've found it harder and harder to keep winning and winning," Rogers said. "It makes it all that more impressive when teams like Misty and Kerri and back in the day, Karch (Kiraly) and Kent (Steffes) or (Sinjin) Smith/ (Randy) Stoklos, when they were winning so many tournaments. It is impressive that they can keep their focus for that long."

Rogers said that to maintain their own focus, he and Dalhausser need to put more energy into the early rounds and mimic the play they've exhibited in their two final matches.

"We have to play a little bit better, have a little bit better warm up," Rogers said. "Maybe not take that team quite as lightly and we'll end up with a big difference in scores by as many as three or four points. We can be in a more comfortable position instead of scrambling and get that last point. That has to be our focus."

Omens: The teams of Walsh and May-Treanor, and Dalhausser and Rogers both won last week and also are the respective defending champions at Huntington Beach.

Long season: Mike Lambert and Stein Metzger suffered the early season shock when they dropped two straight matches in Dallas. The No. 1 seed lost their opening match to Albert Hannemann and Ed Ratledge and then fell to Brent Doble and Ty Loomis in the contender's bracket

Lambert said he feels that he and Metzger have better communication this season, though, and are buoyed by the fact the bulk of the schedule still remains.

"Last year we didn't win a tournament for five tournaments but we had some good finishes," Lambert said. "Hopefully we get to a final sooner this year."

Cut shots: The first two tournaments have seen low seeds advance. Matt Olson and Jason Ring (13) finished third in Miami while Ryan Mariano and Larry Witt (11) placed third in Dallas. On the women's side, Jennifer Boss and April Ross (11) lost in the final in Miami ¦ Ryan Mariano led the Dallas Open with 12 aces in 16 games while Mark Williams led the men with 14 blocks in 12 games. On the women's side, Tatiana Minello and Walsh each had 12 aces and Dianne DeNecochea led with 19 blocks.

Up next: The tour makes its first stop in California with the AVP Cuervo Gold Crown Huntington Beach Open, May 3-6. Qualifying rounds for the 32-teams men's and women's draws will be Thursday with both men's and women's finals to be contested Sunday afternoon.