Each time Phil Dalhausser got beaten at the net by his relatively diminutive former partner, he had words for the man with whom he won a beach volleyball gold medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics.
“I tell him he’s garbage,” Dalhausser joked about the conversations he had with Todd Rogers during the final of the AVP Salt Lake City Open Sunday at Liberty Park. “Tell them we’re going to stuff them next hit or whatever. It’s all in fun, if he gets it by me he’ll say something, probably something pretty lame.”
All in good fun?
“I think they want to rip each other’s heads off,” Sean Rosenthal said after he and Dalhausser beat Rogers and Ryan Doherty (20-12, 19-21, 15-10).
Rogers and Doherty advanced to the finals after beating Bountiful native Jake Gibb and former BYU star Casey Patterson in Sunday’s semifinals, setting up the first rematch between Dalhausser and Rogers, who played together from 2006 through the London Olympics, in a tournament final.
“I thought Todd and Ryan played really well, especially in the semis,” Dalhausser said. “I 100 percent thought we were going to play Jake and Casey, but they definitely took us to our limit.”
London silver medalists April Ross and Jennifer Kessy won the women’s tournament after playing three matches Sunday, including a three-set win over Kerri Walsh Jennings and her new teammate, Whitney Pavlik.
Rogers is 6-foot-2 compared to Dalhausser’s 6-foot-9, and managed to get a trademark shot past his former partner several times.
“He always hates that,” Rogers said, “when I hit it down his line. I did that a couple times and was like, ‘You can’t get that.’ And he just laughs. So it’s all in friends.”
The two became one of the most recognizable men’s teams in the world after the Beijing Games. However, their split is emblematic of major shifts in the sport, where all four of the teams that represented the U.S. in London have split up or are in the process of doing so.
After Misty May-Treanor retired after winning her third gold medal with Walsh Jennings in London, Walsh Jennings reached out to Ross, essentially ending her seven-year partnership with Kessy.
Kessy and Ross will play four more AVP events together before Ross partners with Walsh Jennings full time.
On Sunday, they defeated fifth-seeded Lauren Fendrick and Brittany Hochevar in the final, but the real championship may have been two rounds earlier against Walsh Jennings and Pavlik.
“I feel like we’ve played two finals today,” Kessy said.
Relegated to the consolation bracket after an unexpected loss Saturday, they moved past Walsh Jennings, the three-time gold medalist, but needed three games, including a 17-15 third game, to do so.
“We don’t want that matchup in the quarterfinals,” Kessy said. “They don’t want that matchup, I don’t think the AVP wants that matchup in the quarterfinals.”
By the end of the summer, however, Ross will play full time with Walsh Jennings with an eye on the 2016 Olympics, while Kessy intends to build a family and continue to play domestically.
“It’s so special,” Kessy said. “Every time we step on the court together it’s really cool. I thought about it a little bit in this final but I had to get it out of my head. It pops in there and I have to get it out.”
Added Ross: “You never know if the magic’s ever going to happen again.”
R Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal defeat Ryan Doherty and Dalhausser’s former teammate, Todd Rogers, to win first AVP Salt Lake City Open.
• Olympic silver medalists April Ross and Jennifer Kessy play three matches Sunday to win the women’s tournament.
• Bountiful native and University of Utah alum Jake Gibb and partner Casey Patterson are upset in the semifinals.