Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser said arrivederci to a Olympic history as the Italian team of Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai played near flawless and upset the defending beach volleyball champions 21-17, 21-19 in the Round of 16 on Friday at Horse Guards Parade.
Rogers-Dalhausser were trying to become the first men’s team to win back-to-back gold medals.
They were stymied by the outstanding play of the Italians. Nicolai and Lupo seemed to win every rally and the 6-8 Nicolai played huge at the net, hitting past and through the block attempts of Dalhausser and stuffing Rogers. On one sequence in the first set, he blocked Rogers three straight times to break a 7-7 tie.
The Italians never trailed from that point on in the first set. Rogers-Dalhausser rallied to knot the score a 12-12, but a service error by Dalhausser gave the lead back to the Italians.
Rogers-Dalhausser never led in the second set, trailing by as many as five points (14-9). The Americans fought back and tied the score at 19-19, but the Italians kept their composure. Nicolai ripped a ball off a Dalhausser block and then stuffed Rogers to win the match and hand the defending champs their only loss in the tournament.
Lupo-Nicolai went 1-2 in pool play and reached the elimination round by winning a lucky loser match late Thursday.
“They’re a very, very good team. They’re younger. The tall guy is like Phil, the little guy is like me, just 10 or 20 years younger, so,” Rogers told reporters with a chuckle.
“They basically beat us at our own game today,” said Dalhausser in an NBC interview.
For the Italians, the stunning win was like a fantasy.
“We’ve won against them before, but every time it’s a battle. They’ve been idols for me and it’s strange to beat them,” Nicolai told reporters.
The match marked the end of Rogers’ Olympic career. He said before the tournaement he was retiring from further Olympics competition. In the post-match interview, he said: “I’m bummed this is my last Olympics, I won’t be going on to Rio.”
It’s unclear if Dalhausser will continue playing. Rogers is 38 and Dalhausser 32.
Westmont’s Canitez in quarterfinals with Turkey
Tugce Canitez and her teammates on Turkey’s women’s basketball team tied for second place in the Pool A standings and guaranteed themselves a place in the quarterfinals.
Turkey posted a convincing 82-55 win over previously undefeated China, giving both teams a record of 3-1. Turkey will finish pool play on Sunday against Croatia (1-3) while China will play its final game against the undefeated United States squad.
If Turkey defeats Croatia and China falls to the United States, Turkey will finish second in Pool A and face the third-place team from Pool B in the quarterfinals, which are scheduled to be played on Tuesday, August 7.
Canitez, the Golden State Athletic Conference and NAIA Player of the Year, took the floor for the final 5 1/2 minuues of the game against China, scoring two points and pulling down two rebounds.
U.S. women edge China in final group game
The U.S. women’s water polo team overcame a slow start and beat China 7-6 and finished second in its group.
The Americans tied with Spain for the top spot in Group A but the Spanish earned the top seeding for the knockout round based on a tiebreaker.
Santa Barbara’s Kami Craig and her U.S. teammates will play Italy in Sunday’s quarterfinals.
Against China, Maggie Steffens scored three goals to lead the U.S. The Americans trailed 3-2 at halftime.
“We messed up a lot in the beginning of the match and missed many opportunities, but it is important that we found some momentum and we became much better offensively in the second half,” said coach Adam Krikorian.