BEACH VOLLEYBALL : Strategy Pays Dividend for Dodd, Whitmarsh

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It's no secret to any professional beach volleyball player what the strategy of Mike Dodd and Mike Whitmarsh will be when they step on the court.

And they are the first to admit it.

"The way we get points is off the block or dig because we won't get any off the serve," Whitmarsh said following his team's 12-7 victory over Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes in the finals of the winner's bracket at the Miller Lite Open tournament here Saturday.

Dodd and Whitmarsh will find out this morning whether they will face Kiraly and Steffes again or Randy Stoklos and Adam Johnson when those two teams face off in the consolation final at 9 a.m.

The men's final will follow at approximately noon.

Dodd and Whitmarsh, the defending Seal Beach champions, kept the top-seeded duo of Kiraly and Steffes from staging any of their trademark rallies and held the lead for the entire match.

"They couldn't get any rallies," Whitmarsh said. "It's really important to stay on top of them."

After Dodd and Whitmarsh jumped out to a 6-2 lead, Kiraly and Steffes put together their only challenge of the match, cutting the lead to one point before the second-seeded pair rolled off four consecutive points for a 10-5 advantage.

The highlight off the run was a fake spike by Dodd, who then spun in the air and, with his back to the net, reeled off a backhand spike that landed on the line.

Dodd and Whitmarsh then were able to keep Kiraly and Steffes in the check until the rally clock expired.

In the women's semifinals, the fourth-seeded team of Sandra Pires and Jackie Silva advanced to the final with a 12-8 victory over defending champions Cammy Ciarelli and Holly McPeak.

The Brazilian pair will be looking for their second consecutive AVP tournament win when they face top-seeded Nancy Reno and Angela Rock at 10 a.m.

Pires and Silva defeated Reno and Rock, 15-9, in the second round Saturday morning.

Matt Unger and his new partner, Scott Friedrichsen, who came into the tournament seeded 13th, upset several teams to finish fifth.

Unger, whose previous highest AVP finish was ninth, delighted the crowd with his ability to hold his own at the net despite being only 5-foot-11.

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