Did you see Phil Dalhausser win his 100th title? How about the A-Team come back from an injury in their first match to win another tournament? Or when Emily Day got her career-high kills in her upset to make it to the Semifinals? So much amazingness happened this weekend.
Phil Dalhausser won for the ONE-HUNDREDTH TIME. I can’t imagine winning even one let alone 58 AVPs, 38 FIVBs, a Gold Medal, and a handful of other wins. And not only was it his hundredth win, but he did it in epic fashion absolutely dominating these last two weekends and looking like a teenager with his longtime buddy and partner Nick Lucena. Nick’s next level, too – his trash talk, call arguments, and sarcastic comments are better than ever.
This team proved me right; they really do have a Quarantine Glow about them. They’re playing some of their best ball, and they’re beating everyone in their path. According to AVP’s 2020 leaderboard, they’re leading or present in every category.
Hitting Percentage – Phil is #1 with .555
Digs – Nick is #2 with 86
Kills – Nick is #3 with 123
Aces – Phil is #1 with 17
Terminal Blocks – Phil is #1 with 40
In their final against Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb, Phil had a monster game with 5 terminal blocks and 9 controlled blocks, 3 aces, and 9 kills. Lucena had 17 kills (some of which shook the empty stadium with their power) and 15 digs.
And the best part of Phil winning was his Instagram post. I love a man that celebrates his wife in his accomplishment because he knows he couldn’t have done it without her. I caught up with Phil’s wife, Jen, on Monday afternoon to talk about life with Phil, how quarantine treated them, and what’s she excited for. Check back soon for our chat.
Alix Klineman took an extended medical timeout in her first match, and then preceded to win the entire tournament. Is she even human? After the timeout, she recovered slowly and I was worried about her. But then in the span of about 10 points, she lit up and started playing at Alix Klineman level again. Jumping must have been the issue because she started pulling and digging everything. In the decisive set 3, she had 7 kills and 8 digs. They then went on to win every match, including the 2-set final against their international rivals Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes.
Both the A-Team and Phil and Nick are on track to win the Gold Medal and take the top prize of the Champions Cup Bonus Prize Purse. There’s only one way they can lose it. April and Alix would have to get 5th or worse, AND Brandie Wilkerson and Sara Hughes OR Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan would have to win. Phil and Nick would have to get 5th or worse AND Jake and Taylor would have to win.
Phil and Nick’s last 5th place was in Waikiki last season when they lost a sunset match to John Hyden and Theo Brunner in the third set 16-18. Though that wasn’t too long ago, 2020 Phil and Nick have yet to lose a match and have only lost two sets.
April Ross hasn’t gotten 5th or worse since the last tournament of 2016 in Chicago. Remember, this was when the AVP first instated “The Freeze.” Some players refused to play in the tournament because of the new, unexpected rule. April was forced to choose a new partner right after earning Bronze in the Rio Olympics. She picked up Kelly Reeves last minute, another defender and good friend of April’s, and the two had hardly ever practiced together. They finessed their way to a 7th place, eventually losing to fellow Olympians Brooke Sweat and Lauren Fendrick.
Speaking of Lauren Fendrick, she and Emily Day bounced back in epic fashion this weekend. In the Monster Hydro Cup, the two blockers struggled to find their footing and went 0-2 barbeque. But this weekend, they were a thing of beauty. Lauren’s block improved tenfold, especially her controlled block touches. Emily looked like a true defender back there, and a solid one at that. Almost every dig she earned turned into a conversion. She’s 3rd in hitting percentage and leading overall in kills per set.
But where this new team truly shined was when sets came down to the wire. In the qualifier, they pulled out a tough 3-setter against Amanda Dowdy and Zana Muno. In their first match of the Main Draw, they closed out the first set against Brandie Wilkerson and Sara Hughes 27-25. They then rode that momentum 21-16 in the second set. To get to the Semis, they battled against Kelly Kolinske and Emily Stockman in 3 close sets. Their calm under pressure (and EmDay’s career-high 36 kills) helped them overcome a 12-14 deficit in the third to win the match 16-14.
I could go on and on, but I’ll keep it short and sweet with just two more impressive performances this weekend.
Brandie is dominating. She’s present in nearly every leaderboard category.
Hitting Percentage – #5 with .408
Kills – #3 with 125
Aces – #1 with 22
Terminal Blocks – #1 with 30
Casey Patterson is so fun to watch. Not only is he making everyone in the DJ booth crack up (check out the video montage complete with subtitles that sums up Casey’s personality perfectly), but he’s also playing really well. He and Theo Brunner are one of the two teams that have taken a set off of Phil and Nick. To get there, Casey and Theo beat Chaim Schalk and Chase Budinger. In that match, Casey had 32 kills with only 2 errors and hit .615, not to mention he also added 18 digs to the stat sheet.
Check avp.com this Thursday for a peek into next week’s Porsche Cup, complete with the Quali and Main Draw matchups to watch, injury updates, and what to expect in our last tournament this summer (sad).