Courtesy: Red Bull Content Pool
Fort Lauderdale’s Nick Lucena and his partner Phil Dalhausser stun Gold Medalists Alison and Bruno in a three-set thriller under Friday night lights while Germany’s Kira Walkenhorst is sent home by Brazilians Barbara and Fernanda.
Now that we’ve entered the elimination portion of the tournament no team is safe on the sands of Fort Lauderdale Beach, but no one could anticipate the day’s seesaw battles and upsets coming. In a day of shockers all of the Gold Medalists from Rio were eliminated in the span of a few hours, including Brazilian Gold Medalists Alison and Bruno who lost to Nick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser in an instant classic. The Brazilian powerhouse duo won their first set convincingly against Nick and Phil (21-13), but stumbled in the second (17-21) and fell in the final set (15-10).
For the defending Olympic Men’s Gold Medalists, their quarterfinal night match against rivals Nick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser was the end of the line. This rematch of the championship match of the 2015 Swatch Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals thrilled the packed stands on Fort Lauderdale Beach, and raised the bar for the remaining games on the schedule.
Dalhausser showed nothing but class after the comeback victory, praising the Brazilian duo who they lost to on this same court over a year ago. “Hats off to Alison and Bruno, they’re the best team in the world. We happened to win today, but I’m sure we’ll see them again this year.”
The home country advantage was in effect on the women’s side as well, as Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross advanced by beating Russians Ukolova/Barsuk (21-13; 21-18). Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross also moved into the final eight by defeating another the other Russian team left in the tournament, Birlova/Makroguzova. However, all of Friday’s matches on the women’s side did not follow the script when Rio Gold Medalist Kira Walkenhorst and her partner Julia Grossner of Germany made an early exit in the round of 24 despite a strong performance in Pool Play. The reigning Olympic champion, who is playing without injured partner Laura Ludwig who has been sidelined with a shoulder surgery, was dispatched by Brazilian duo Barbara and Fernanda. They’re just one of four Brazilian teams who have steamrolled their way into the quarterfinals.
Looking ahead, Saturday is shaping up to be a day to remember as the remaining four men’s teams will face off in a battle of strength, endurance and will to determine who will be crowned the kings of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Lucena and Dalhausser have a quick turnaround and are slated to take on Brazilians Evandro and Andre in the first match of the day at 10:30 A.M. On the other side of the men’s semis Americans John Hyden and Ryan Doherty will match up against Brazilian’s Alvaro Filho and Saymon at 11:50 A.M. The men’s Gold Medal Match will begin at 4:30 P.M. The Women’s division will also be active with a primetime matchup between Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross versus Agatha and the 18-year-old rising star Eduarda “Duda” of Brazil. Fans should come early as the Fort Lauderdale Major is expecting a packed house for the premiere matchup.