It has come to my attention that I have yet to comment on Manhattan Beach. Perhaps because it is a tournament that took place in Southern California and I no longer am able to finish in the top ten in tournaments that place in Southern California. It’s a sad, sad truth. Somehow we managed to botch up an excellent draw in the loser’s bracket and choke down our second 13th place finish of the year. I’m not sure what happens to us when we lose that match to get to 9th in the winner’s, but I’ll be damned if we’re not the best draw on tour immediately following.
Regardless of our finish, Manhattan Beach was just as special as it always is, and this time even included 64 teams per gender, making it the largest professional beach volleyball tournament in the world. A couple of good friends got in through the qualifier for the first time and I couldn’t have been happier that they finally had the chance to experience the thrill of earning a spot on Friday morning. My favorite memory in this game is still the moment I turned and realized Kevin Dake’s high line shot was headed long and I was going to play in the big show for the first time. So, anyone who says qualifying isn’t a big deal is 100% full of crap.
As far as the Championship match goes, well, Todd and Phil weren’t there. Instead it was Olson/Wong and Gibb/Rosenthal. Who would’ve thought? All I can say is, earlier in the day Olson ran up and blocked full time while Kevin scooped, delivered and screamed at his opponent, namely Casey Jennings, so kudos to them for having the balls to switch things up, take some chances and find a way to come through all the way to the finals. They really are playing out of their minds right now, so don’t be surprised to see them in another final by the end of the year. Now, as far as the Champions go, Rosie could not have played more brilliantly than he did this past weekend in the deep sands of the ‘Hatty. His line spike, off an amazing trouble bump set from Jake, was the single greatest hit I have ever seen. Ever. Wait, did I say ever? I meant EVER. I spoke to Marc Werschkul in the AVP’s media department about it immediately following the finals and how he needed to edit the Youtube version of it as soon as possible; but I forgot to mention that a poster also needs to be created stating two things: “POSTERIZATION” at the top, and “THE MANHATTAN” at the bottom. Not “Manhattan Line,” or what you see below – a la “Vegas Line,” but “THE MANHATTAN.” Like a dressed up cocktail. Dan Madden helped me come up with these, and they are genius. Don’t kid yourself. Why don’t you take a look for yourself…
Obviously, they weren’t aware of its appropriated title; nonetheless, the footage is solid.
Okay, back to Rosie, and his performance in the finals beyond the greatest hit of all time. 19 kills before his first hitting error, say no more. Congrats to Jake and Sean on their first win of the 2009 season. If Rosie plays like that again, expect a couple more.
In regards to Todd and Phil, it has become quite clear to everyone who pays attention to the game that they simply don’t want it anymore. They’re almost bored with it; which speaks volumes as to how good they really are, considering they can go through the motions and still finish in the final four almost every weekend. But it’s still weird to see them lose to a team like Herrera/Gavira from Spain at 5th place in Gstaad, Switzerland and then come home and lose in the Manhattan Beach semis to Olson/Wong. And perhaps, that was the final straw; maybe it finally hit them… They are way too good to be losing these matches, and if they don’t actually show up to play them, both mentally and physically, they will, in fact, lose. So, what did they do in Marseille, France this past weekend? They cleaned house is what they did. They beat Jonas Reckerman and Julius Brink in the semi-finals, a team that had won a record 25 straight World Tour matches, and then absolutely smashed that team from Spain in the finals, 21-8, 21-14. Yes, the same Spanish team they lost to two weeks prior in the land of Toblerone. They’re back. They have to be. I watched the French finals on Universal Sports and I haven’t seen Phil play like that since Beijing, when he put Jaws in the closet of doom. He scored like 15 points off of his serve alone and had an additional 7 stuff blocks. It was a ridiculous performance; and one that screamed, “I am sick of losing! We are the best team in the world! We will lose no more!” And I believed every word he said… Yes, I heard it. Telepathically. The greatest FIVB tournament of the year is taking place right now in Klagenfurt, Austria, so we’ll see how they respond after returning to the winner’s circle; but my guess is, they battle with the Germans once again, only this time in the finals. 2008 Olympic Gold Medalists vs. 2009 FIVB World Champions; and the result will be a gnarly three set match earning Gold for the U.S. as Phil blocks Brink’s shoot set to the pin straight down for point #15.
No comments yet.