Olympic gold medalist Phil Dalhausser and the rest of the U.S. team were in Rio last week for an Olympic test event against Brazil. He shares his takeaways from the trip with ESPN.com:
Last week, the top four U.S. men’s and women's beach volleyball teams played against the top four Brazilian teams on one of the most iconic beaches in the world, Copacabana Beach.
Brazil and USA Volleyball have an intense rivalry, it's like the Duke-North Carolina or Yankees-Red Sox match-up of our sport. The last time we had an event like this was in 2009 in Arizona, where the U.S. beat the Brazilians in a very tight contest. This week was a different story -- we got smashed! We won 11 out of 36 matches. I am not one to make excuses, especially in volleyball, but I am going to be a huge hypocrite and give you some reasons or excuses (however you want to look at it) as to why we got beat:
1. The Brazilians are in midseason form. They are in the midst of their domestic tour season, while most of the Americans have just been in training for a few weeks. After our season ends, we take a break from volleyball to let our bodies and minds heal. Sean Rosenthal and I usually start training three months before our first tournament, which happened to be the beginning of this month. There is a slow progression in our training; the first two weeks are easy ball-control drills with no jumping, so we basically had no business playing high-level volleyball so early in the year.
2. Team USA was out of shape! While we are trying to shed our offseason weight gain, Team Brazil was quite the opposite in form. They are fit and trim with tans, which we are also working on. Plus, it was really hot in Rio, which was another huge disadvantage since it's been a pretty chilly winter for us in Southern California.
3. We have two new women's teams and one new men's team. It’s quite simple -- it takes time to find team chemistry.
With all that said, the Brazilians played high-level volleyball, and even if we were in midseason form, it would've been tough to beat them (it pains me to admit this). Since Sean and I didn't do so well, we had time to checkout Rio de Janeiro and enjoy what this city has to offer.