Beach Volleyball: Latest rivalry delivers

LONG BEACH — The next great American men's beach volleyball rivalry is still in its early stages, but the semifinal matchup between Costa Mesa resident Jake Gibb and partner Casey Patterson against 2008 Olympic gold medalist Phil Dalhausser and his partner Sean Rosenthal delivered a big dose of what figures to be many future thrills on Friday.

Dalhausser and Rosenthal, the former Corona del Mar resident who played in two Olympics with Gibb before changing sides this season, posted a 21-16, 21-19 triumph in the Federation Internationale de Volleyball Grand Slam event as part of the World Series of Beach Volleyball at Marine Green Park.

The victory propelled the No. 4-seeded Americans into Saturday's final against Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira of Spain at 2 p.m. It was the second win in as many meetings this season for Dalhausser and Rosenthal, the first being a sweep at the world championships in Poland.

Top-seeded Gibb and Patterson will play for third place on Saturday at 11 a.m. against the Italian tandem of Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupe.

Gibb and Patterson, a Huntington Beach resident, will get another crack at Dalhausser and Rosenthal in the semifinals of the four-team World Series Cup men's event that will be contested Sunday.

"I'm disappointed, that's all I can say about it," said the 37-year-old Gibb, who had 10 kills and three stuff blocks. I'll get over it and come out and win a bronze medal [Saturday]. "

Patterson, 33, had 16 kills and one ace serve and was a catalyst early, helping his team claim an 8-6 lead.

But Rosenthal said a shift to serving at Gibb helped cool off Patterson and get Dalhausser and Rosenthal back in control.

Dalhausser and Rosenthal scored three straight to break an 11-11 deadlock and pushed the lead to five en route to claiming the opening set.

"When [Patterson] is on, he's on and he's a great offensive player," Rosenthal said.

Gibb and Rosenthal seemed to enjoy playing against one another. They both got the better of their former teammate on plays at the net and the victor gave the victim a good-natured ribbing each time. Rosenthal said there was no extra meaning to beating his former teammate in the featured match of the tournament to this point.

"I take extra satisfaction in making it to the final," Rosenthal said. "I was just stoked that one of us was going to get to play in the final here."

Rosenthal amassed 21 kills, while Dalhausser totaled six kills, four stuff blocks and four aces. After Gibb blocked Dalhausser to put his team ahead, 19-18, a booming Rosenthal kill was followed by a Dalhausser stuff of Gibb, and a screaming ace serve by Dalhausser into the corner on match point.

"I think Phil just took over there at the end," Gibb said. "He got a block and an ace at the end that kind of sealed it for them. We were in it until then. Congrats to them, they made two really big plays at the end."

But this rivalry is surely destined for many more installments.

"I'm sure we're gong to be facing them a lot this next quad [Olympic cycle heading into the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil]," Dalhausser said. "Especially with the AVP Tour coming back. I'm sure we'll play them a lot in the semis and finals."

Gibb-Patterson coach Tyler Hildebrand said of the rivalry: "It's good for volleyball and it's good for American volleyball."

In the quarterfinals Friday, Gibb and Patterson swept the No. 18-seeded duo from Norway, 21-13, 21-17.

Against Iver Horrem and Geir Eithun, Gibb had nine kills, four stuff blocks and two aces, while Patterson contributed 14 kills.

In the round of 16 Friday morning, Gibb and Patterson dispatched the No. 13-seeded German pair of Markus Bockermann and Mischa Urbatzka, 21-12, 21-15. Gibb was dominant against the Germans, amassing 14 kills and six stuff blocks.

The women's World Series Cup will begin Saturday. April Ross, a Newport Harbor High product and Costa Mesa resident, and her partner Jennifer Kessy will meet Kerri Walsh Jennings and former UC Irvine standout Whitney Pavlik in one semifinal at 1 p.m. The women's World Series Cup final is set for Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

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