Worldwide Volleyball Corridor induction week: USA seashore legend Phil Dalhausser

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It’s induction week on the Worldwide Volleyball Corridor of Fame in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The ceremony is Saturday. Six inductees will be a part of the earlier 161 gamers, coaches, directors and leaders from 25 nations who’ve already been enshrined within the museum on the birthplace of volleyball:

One match modified every little thing within the lifetime of Phil Dalhausser. 

And the residual impact of that one three-setter altered the course of seashore volleyball perpetually.

It was Friday July 23, 2004, in Hermosa Seashore, California. The second spherical of the winners bracket within the eponymously named Open. Seashore volleyball royalty Karch Kiraly and his companion Mike Lambert on one aspect of the online and the upstarts, Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, each simply 24, and comparatively unknown, particularly alongside the California coast, on the opposite. 

It was the 2004 AVP workforce of the yr, the No. 1 seed, towards the sixteenth. A layup if there ever was one.

Solely somebody overlook to inform the youngsters from Florida. 

They misplaced the primary set 21-16, however had been undeterred. They rebounded within the second. All of the sudden, a crowd began forming and distinct murmurs might be heard. Who’s that enormous? The thin bald man? He can do every little thing, he’s coordinated! What, he’s from Florida??? No method! And the murmurs turned a roar that might be heard all the way in which from Hermosa to the world over as Dalhausser and Lucena toppled Kiraly and Lambo 15-9 within the decisive third set. 

The tectonic plates of seashore volleyball shifted that day in Hermosa, and the ensuing earthquake was felt from sea to shining sea.

Phil Dalhausser/ and Nick Lucena have fun gold in Hamburg in 2016

“It hit me that I could make a profession out of this,” Dalhausser mirrored 19 years later. “We beat Stein (Metzger) and Dax (Holdren) and Jeff (Nygaard) and Dain (Blanton) in that match. These two groups represented the USA within the Olympics later that summer season. And we beat the good Karch Kiraly.”

Dalhausser modified the sport in so some ways. By no means had a person of his measurement (6-foot-9) possessed the repertoire of abilities that he displayed. He might move nails (that’s on the few occasions he ever obtained served). His setting was butter, even with the ball spinning like a dreidel, the solar in his eyes, the wind in his face and the ball slippery moist from sweat. No person might block his hits, and in flip, he put up a wall, regardless of his skinny body, that was the toughest to penetrate of any protagonist on the planet on the sand. His soar serve was cash. He had wonderful quickness, and will pull off the block very successfully. And for individuals who doubted his defensive bona fides, he gained an AVP with younger Andy Benesh in 2022, cut up blocking. 

You merely can’t underestimate the impression of this uber-coordinated 6-9 participant who might move, set, hit, block and commanded a laser-like soar serve. 

And, for a sport whose origins had been in Southern California, Dalhausser and Lucena paved the way in which and confirmed it was attainable that you simply didn’t must be from, or transfer to, SoCal to be a power. Contemplate that proper now, one of many prime USA girls’s workforce options Taryn Kloth, who’s from South Dakota, and her companion Kristen Nuss, who’s from Louisiana. 

Dalhausser and Lucena first confirmed it might be accomplished.

Dalhausser additionally had different presents, much less seen, however no much less impactful. Take as an example his preternatural calm within the face of adversity. That adversity was no extra obvious than within the first spherical of the single-elimination winners bracket on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. A loss would have despatched second-seeded Dalhausser and his companion, Todd Rogers, to a dispiriting ninth place. 

And it seemed like a loss was within the offing towards the No. 20 seeds from Switzerland, Martin Laciga and Jan Schnider. In what ought to have been a walkover, the Individuals cut up the primary two units, after which discovered themselves down 6-0 within the set to fifteen that may decide the winner. 

“We sided out lastly,” Dalhausser recalled. “Then I blocked Jan down the road. (As much as that time) he was sneaking these little hits down the road and I lastly obtained him. And Martin freaked out proper there and known as a timeout. And that timeout modified the momentum in our favor, as a result of he had such an emotional response, after which I knew proper there we had an opportunity. Perhaps we might get to a 6-9 change and we’d be OK. And it was truly 7-8. Martin was using his man Jan, and he (Jan) simply type of caved. The strain of this match, dealing with the No. 1  workforce on the planet, after which this man was using him in essentially the most unfavorable method attainable, and it was an excessive amount of to deal with.”

Phil Dalhausser 3/9/2020-Beijing Olympics 2008-Gold Medal
Phil Dalhausser have fun after profitable the 2008 gold medal in Beijing/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

It’s in these kind of moments the place gold medals are gained. Lots of people will bear in mind Dalhausser’s and Rogers’ stunning first-round Beijing Olympic pool-play loss to Latvia’s Martins Plavins and Alexsandrs Samoilovs. Or the gold-medal match, the place the Individuals took down Marcio and Fabio of Brazil. 

However no match within the lifetime of Phil Dalhausser epitomized his profession greater than that win over Laciga and Schnider. No panic, the flexibility to show it on a dime when it mattered most, and the way in which his blocking prowess “moved the cheese” of his opponents.

The “Skinny Beast,” or “Beijing Beast,” in case you choose, was born 43 years in the past in Basel, Switzerland, the place he resided for just one yr, however has robust and enduring connections to the nation. The Dalhausser household additionally spent a while in Alaska, earlier than they settled in Daytona Seashore, Florida. It was Dalhausser’s highschool coach, Todd White, a fantastic seashore participant in his personal proper, who launched Phil to the sand sport. 

“I solely performed one yr in highschool, and he (White) would take us all the way down to the seashore. White taught me the way to set. Learn how to make it as quiet as attainable, the ball hitting your arms, and no spin. I obtained so many reps in my profession. There was just one one who set extra balls than me (of their profession) and it was Randy Stoklos as a result of they performed two-hour matches again in these days (Nineteen Seventies, ‘80s and ‘90s).”

Whereas White obtained Dalhausser began in the best course. His trajectory actually took off following his school days at Central Florida, when he and Lucena got here underneath the wing of Myrtle Seashore, South Carolina, kingpins Matt Heath and Adam Roberts. Roberts, 47, who performed his first AVP earlier than the flip of the century, remains to be an lively participant, and doubtless at this level has performed with extra companions than anybody within the historical past of the sport. Heath and Roberts not solely taught Dalhausser and Lucena a number of the finer factors of the seashore sport, but additionally confirmed them what it meant to be professionals.

Dalhausser hit the world tour for the primary time in 2004 with Roberts, and naturally drew the world’s No. 1 workforce, Ricardo and Emanuel, recent off an Olympic gold medal and enjoying on their dwelling soil in Rio de Janeiro. You can not have scripted a worse predicament. The Individuals performed them tight, shedding solely 21-18-, 21-19. As much as that time Dalhausser, the unicorn, had no participant to mannequin himself after. 

“As soon as I obtained on the World Tour, it was Ricardo,” Dalhausser mentioned. “He was the man. The defending Olympic gold medalist, and I might sit round and watch what he was doing. Shortly thereafter we had been battling one another in each semi and closing it appeared.” 

True sufficient, the very best two groups of that period confronted off 10 occasions, with the Brazilians holding a 6-4 benefit.

Dalhausser, by stark distinction to Roberts, has had solely three “actual” companions in his profession, Lucena, Rogers, and Sean Rosenthal, the latter whom Phil calls essentially the most gifted participant he ever paired with. 

Dalhausser had his most profitable run with “Rogey,” as they gained over half of the (65) 128 tourneys they performed collectively. The partnership began innocuously in 2005, at, of all tournaments, the World Seashore Volleyball Championships in June in Berlin, solely crucial occasion on the calendar that yr. Rogers’ common companion, Sean Scott was injured, and Dalhausser was the most suitable choice as a last-minute alternative. When you concentrate on it, their seventh-place end at Worlds was nothing wanting outstanding. These two had by no means performed in a tourney collectively earlier than, a lot much less crucial one of many yr, and the one worldwide publicity Phil had earlier than then had been simply the three matches he performed in Rio the autumn earlier than.

You needed to know the wheels had been spinning in Rogers’ head after that unlooked for Worlds end. It didn’t take the “Professor” lengthy to achieve out to Dalhausser within the offseason. Their first tourney collectively was fairly memorable, in Fort Lauderdale in March. And, in fact, in seashore volleyball, hell hath no fury like a companion spurned. And Dalhausser’s jilted former companion, Nick Lucena was enjoying in pleasant territory.

It was not an auspicious starting for the Dalhausser-Rogers duo. 

“I used to be not feeling effectively in Fort Lauderdale,” Phil recalled. “(Todd and I) first misplaced to (Jason) Ring and George Roumain.” 

Three matches later who did they must sq. off towards? None aside from Lucena and his companion Mark Williams. 

“We had been enjoying Nick and Mark Williams in entrance of all Nick’s family and friends. Todd and Nick, and Nick’s brother nearly obtained right into a battle,” Dalhauser recalled with amusing. It ended up being candy vindication for Lucena although, as he and Williams gained in three, whereas Dalhausser and Rogers positioned ninth.

All Dalhausser, now wholesome, and Rogers did in response to the Florida debacle was to win the following 4 AVP tour occasions, and later that summer season, the Manhattan Seashore Open. They captured 9 of that season’s 16 whole AVP occasions.

It didn’t take lengthy for the “Phil and Todd present” to make their presence felt on the World Tour. Their first occasion off the bat in 2006, was a second in Zagreb shedding to Emanuel and Ricardo twice. They turned the tables on the Brazilians later that summer season in Klagenfurt, Austria, the World Tour occasion everybody pointed to throughout that golden period, regardless of two losses in pool play. 

The message to the world was clear after Klagenfurt. Rogers and Dalhausser had been a power to be reckoned with. That was solely confirmed a yr later when Dalhausser returned to his native Switzerland, in Gstaad, on the World Championships, with a bevy of family and friends in attendance. He and Rogers ran the desk, profitable all of their eight matches for the gold medal, together with an epic confrontation with, you guessed it, Emanuel and Ricardo within the semis, earlier than the Individuals pulled it out in additional time, 19-17 within the third set.

Dalhausser would find yourself profitable three Manhattan Seashore Opens every with Lucena and Rogers, in addition to one with Rosenthal. Phil would additionally garner a bronze within the 2009 Worlds with Rogers and go on to play in three extra Olympic Video games for Group USA.

VolleyballMag.com editor Lee Feinswog interviews Phil Dalhausser at AVP New Orleans in 2022/Rick Atwood picture

However it wasn’t till six months in the past that Dalhausser got here to an beautiful realization when requested what his best remorse was. 

“I take heed to this man who has a podcast, and he talks lots about good power on groups,” Dalhausser recounted. “Like a participant will not be the very best participant, however he brings up the power (of the workforce). After which there are power vampires. And I used to be an power vampire. I used to be not teammate. If a companion was struggling, I by no means did something to get them going. Relatively than working collectively, it was, that is my job, and that is your job. I simply wasn’t an excellent teammate.”

One other shock got here when requested who his best rival was in a profession that spanned 21 years (and remains to be happening the AVP tour). 

“Pedro Salgado,” Dalhausser mentioned. “I believe he has a profitable report towards me (truly Phil has a 15-9 benefit). Pedro is an undersized blocker with actually lengthy arms. I at all times performed with a mean sized defender. He beat me lots. (Brazilian 2008 Olympic silver medalist) Fabio additionally has a profitable report (7-4) towards me.”

And maybe the largest revelation of all: Laconic Phil truly shed tears after a match. Not in pleasure, however in anger. 

“In 2007 there was a three-stop Cuervo with a $100,000 bonus on the road (for greatest mixed end within the three occasions). Todd and I gained the primary two. We beat Jake and Rosie twice, then within the third one, we performed Jake and Rosie within the semis. If they’d gained, they may have gotten the bonus. I performed like crap, and we misplaced. That match might have price me $50,000. I walked down the seashore and began crying. I used to be so mad at myself. Fortunately Stein (Metzger) and Lambo beat Rosie and Gibb within the finals and due to that we obtained the bonus in any case.”

Dalhausser’s setting was so on level when requested what number of balls he mishandled in matches throughout his profession he put it at 100. Contemplate that Dalhausser performed in 306 tournaments in his profession and barely ever obtained served. So, in nearly one out of each three tourneys he chucked a ball, merely wonderful. Who does that?

“Loads of groups made a mistake serving Todd,” Dalhausser mentioned. “Perhaps Phil is having a nasty passing day. Nobody is unservable. Jake and Rosie, who beat Todd and I essentially the most, they’d at all times take a look at me, and there have been some days I wasn’t feeling it, and they’d beat us.”

Dalhausser was additionally adept at dealing with the hecklers, particularly that group of characters generally known as “Rosie’s Raiders.” 

“My favourite nickname they gave me was “Midget on Stilts,” Dalhausser recounted. “In addition they would name me ‘Moby,’ (on account of his resemblance to the musician of the identical title), ‘Overrated,’ and ‘East Coast Hack’.”

For the skeptics on the market, and there nonetheless are just a few, Dalhausser places to mattress whether or not he would have flourished within the giant courtroom/sideout period. 

“I believe it’s foolish the concept I can’t move on a giant courtroom. Mike Whitmarsh was profitable matches on the large courtroom and he was an enormous blocker. Would I’ve gained as many tournaments? Perhaps not, however I might have had more room on the courtroom to leap serve. I might have tailored. It was a unique sport (again then). Extra of a marathon than a dash.

“With the ‘old style’ guidelines versus ‘new faculty’ guidelines, you need to be a greater participant (with the brand new faculty guidelines). You could have much less courtroom to take care of. And you might be dealing with a giant blocker and defender behind the block. It’s a lot more durable to sideout. 

“However it’s true, you don’t must be in pretty much as good a form as within the outdated days. The highest gamers in the old-fashioned sport would have discovered the way to play on the brief courtroom. Karch, Emanuel and Ricardo all discovered the way in which (they bridged the 2 eras). And I believe I might have too.”

One factor nobody can dispute is that Dalhausser is as worthy a range as anybody to enter the Corridor of Fame. 

“It’s a nod that you’re one of many best, and right here you might be within the Corridor of Fame,” Dalhausser mentioned.  “It’s the acknowledgement of profession and it’s actual good to have this cherry on prime so to talk.” 

***

This completes our collection of tales on the 2023 inductees. In case you missed any of the others:
Sunday:
 Silvano Prandi of Italy
Monday: Katsutoshi Nekoda of Japan
Tuesday: Yumilka Ruiz of Cuba
Wednesday: Larisa of Brazil
Thursday: Shanrit Wongprasert of Thailand

Click on right here for ticket data and in case you gained’t be on the ceremonies they’ll be streamed at IVHF.org

Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers win the 2008 Olympic gold medal



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