Over the past several years, Kerri Walsh Jennings has been the most dominant female player on the pro beach volleyball circuit.
In the championship of the always popular Association of Volleyball Professionals Manhattan Beach Open, Walsh Jennings and April Ross got a little scare from Brooke Sweate and Lauren Fendrick.
Sweate and Fendrick stunned Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and Ross, 21-19, in the first game, then started off well with a 4-1 lead in second set. From there, Walsh Jennings and Ross took over. They closed the game with a 20-9 run for a 21-13 victory.
Sweate, who had back spasm problems since a week earlier in Salt Lake City, started to feel her cramps, again. After Walsh Jennings and Ross surged out to a 9-0 lead, Sweate called for a medical time out. Eventually, she was unable to finish and Walsh Jennings won her seven Manhattan Open with Ross.
On the men's side, Redondo Beach sensation Sean Rosenthal was able to get back to winning the Manhattan Beach Open with three-time Olympic champion Phil Dauhausser as they swept past Dauhausser's ex-partner, Todd Rogers, and Theo Brunner, 21-17, 21-14.
It was a great victory for the team. For Dauhausser, he was fighting abdominal strain as he and Rosenthal nearly pulled out of the tournament. The two, who lost in last year's tournament championship final to Casey Jennings, husband of Kerri Walsh-Jennings, and Matt Fuerbringer, entered this year's classic seeded only sixth. Being disappointed from last year's loss and his subpar showing with his ex-partner Jake Gibb the previous two years, Rosenthal was seeking his first Manhattan Open win since 2010, when he and ex-Redondo High friend Aaron Wacthfogel won the classic just days after the AVP temporarily folded due to their financial downfall over the previous fewyears. A year earlier, Rosenthal won his his only Manhattan Classic with Gibb, who was eliminated with current partner Casey Pattgerson by Rogers and Brunner.
In each game, the first part was very well played as each team exchanged leads. The first game, though, saw Rogers, a two-time champion with Dalhausser in 2004 and 2008, and Brunner lead most of the way until Rosenthal and Dauhausser rallied for the win. Rogers and Brunner led early inthe second set before Rosenthal and Dauhausser took over and pulled away.
Rosenthal and Dalhausser are enjoying a good season. They both won several FIVB tournaments including the Grand Slam in Long Beach on July 27. It was their second consecutive Long Beach title. Rosenthal, who is 34 years old, is seeking his first and, possibly, only gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Rosenthal and Gibb had fifth place finishes in 2008 and 2012.
All of the finalist and a few other top teams who vied at the Manhattan Open are expected to play in this week's FIVB Grand Slam finale in Poland.