CUT SHOTS: DALHAUSSER, LUCENA REUNITE!
By Tom Feuer
This week’s AVP event in Seattle was always going to be captivating with Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena getting the band back together again as well as the debut of the intriguing Theo Brunner/Sean Rosenthal partnership. Now comes word that 38-year old Misty May Treanor will be back in action with longtime Long Beach friend, 34-year old Brittany Hochevar playing by her side.
Before we get into too much of a tizzy about the May Treanor return let’s put this in perspective. The extent of her competitive playing career since winning her third Olympic gold medal in London three summers ago has been two CBVA (California Beach Volleyball Association) events this year. In the first, she paired with Kathrin Winkler and placed third (recapturing that coveted AAA rating) in Doheny Beach and then two weeks ago May Treanor hooked up with Hochevar and took a ninth in Zuma. The last AVP event Misty played was five years ago when in tandem with Nicole Branagh they captured the Long Beach Open.
May Treanor’s partner this week, Hochevar, herself has had some tough sledding this season on the FIVB circuit. A ninth in Prague in May was sandwiched by three Country Quota eliminations, two 25ths and a 33rd.
And, speaking of Branagh, she will be playing in Seattle again with Jenny Kropp after they placed second in a superb final in the AVP New York City event to Emily Day and Jen Kessy, a match that was one of the summer’s longest at 1:20.
“Cut Shots” will be on site in Seattle to take in the reunion of Dalhausser and Lucena. I like the potential of this team and have been pining for them to give it another go. What did not work for this partnership ten years ago will paradoxically be the key to their success this time out. Back then Lucena was the most fiery personality on the beach, apt to get into verbal confrontations with the likes of such veteran players as Stein Metzger and Dax Holdren. Now, Nick has settled down but MUST continue to bring the kind of energy that the “sedate” Dalhausser, partner Sean Rosenthal and Coach Mike Dodd did not.
While Todd Rogers was not exactly Pete Rose, he could get under Phil’s skin and make him play better. Now, Nick must take the passion of 2005, without the obnoxiousness, to make this partnership flourish. Athletically, the 35-year-old Lucena has lost very little in the last decade. Although he probably cannot run a 4.4 40-yard dash like he was rumored to have done years ago, he is still “Nick the Quick,” one of a handful of elite defenders on the world circuit.
Unlike Dalhausser, Lucena has been able to stay remarkably injury free in his career (fingers-crossed) while Phil has had all kinds of issues since the start of the 2012 season. Nevertheless, when healthy, there is still no better big man in the game and no one who has the vast repertoire of skills that includes gorgeous hand setting, deadly jump serves and a very underrated drop off the block that is a crucial skill among the big fellas.
So what about Rosenthal and Brunner? What to make of this partnership? It will be very tough for them to make an Olympic run because they will probably have to spend a fair amount of time playing through either the Qualifier or the Country Quota. For instance in Long Beach, in two weeks, Dalhausser/Lucena, Gibb/Patterson and Hyden/Bourne are all in the main draw. Meanwhile, in the qualifiers are Stafford Slick/Todd Rogers, John Mayer/Ryan Doherty as well as Brunner/Rosenthal. Luckily, for their partnership, Theo and Sean will be able to get some reps together in the two AVP events (Seattle and Manhattan Beach) before the critical World Series of Beach Volleyball.
My other concern with this tandem is that Brunner and Rosenthal are not fiery personalities. Heck Brunner was a philosophy major in college at UC Santa Barbara! Skillwise Theo keeps getting better and better while Rosie’s athleticism has declined over the years but his shot making and defense have certainly improved.
Another note for those of you that may have missed it, at Klagenfurt, Austria over the weekend, Latvia’s Samoilovs and Smedins absolutely dominated the European Championships dropping only one set the entire tournament and winning the final over Italy’s Ranghieri and Carambula (my understanding is that due to Visa issues Carambula will not be in Long Beach).
Finally, this from Tim Simmons through Chris Marlowe: The final Brasilian qualifier, the Rio Open, will for selection purposes count for the same number of points as a Major or a Grand Slam. As a consequence, first place, for instance, will be 800 points. And, remember, that while the first Brasilian slot will be guaranteed to the top point generator, the second pick will be based upon a “selection” which could mean any number of things.
Tom Feuer has been a close observer of the sport since 1976. He currently works as the Director of Arizona State’s Cronkite Sports Bureau in Santa Monica, CA and is a Professor of Practice. Prior to that, he was the Executive Producer for Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket in Los Angeles and has won three National Emmy Awards for his work in television.