RIO DE JANEIRO – The Mammoth proved too much for the Americans.
Brazil’s top-ranked team of 6-foot-8 Alison “The Mammoth” Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt eliminated Team USA’s Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena in the quarterfinals of the Rio Olympics men’s beach volleyball tournament at a blustery Copacabana on Monday. Brazil advances with a 2-1 (21-14, 12-21, 15-9) win in front of a boisterous home crowd.
The Americans lost the first set, 21-14, getting to within three points of Brazil’s consistent lead but never closing the gap. Cerutti had four blocks.
But Dalhausser and Lucena came out on fire in the second set with the first five points en route to a 21-12 advantage.
The third set featured more dominant play from Cerutti. That included a remarkable point at 9-5, with Cerutti digging a Dalhausser spike that knocked his hat off and then ending the sequence with a monstrous spike.
Dalhausser and Lucena had hoped to face the Brazilians later in the tournament rather than in the quarterfinals, but Brazil’s three-set loss to Austria in pool play set them on a collision course for the quarters.
Before the match, Dalhausser said the pressure was on the Brazilians, playing in front of a loud and partisan crowd – and the pressure was off the Americans as a team that had a meteoric rise to Rio since last August. “They’re the No. 1 team here, on home soil. We really shouldn’t be here. We’re playing with the house’s money. We started playing a year ago, and no one gave us a chance to qualify,” he said.
After the retirement of partner Todd Rogers after the London Games and a prolonged injury rehab, the 36-year-old Dalhausser’s status for Rio was uncertain. But Lucena, his partner as a young tour player, reached out to partner again. Less than a year later, they were in the Olympic quarterfinals.
Listen to Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski podcast from Rio on GRANDSTANDING, featuring Olympians and NBC cultural correspondents Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski!
Live from Rio: Tara & Johnny Q & A, green fart water, and more: