Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal have ended their beach volleyball partnership, with Rosenthal saying Dalhausser’s recent oblique injury played a role in breaking up the most successful pair in the world in 2014.
“I think if he doesn’t have that oblique injury, we’re out playing and we’re back to where we’ve been the last two years, as the No. 1 team in the world,” Rosenthal said, according to Redbull.com. “When we weren’t injured, we were the best team in the world. We’ve had to deal with some injuries, and I don’t think either of us have had to do that our whole career, so that put a little more pressure on us: ‘Why aren’t they winning all the time? Why aren’t they the best team in the world?’ When we’re healthy, we were.
“So I think injuries held us back a little bit from being most people thought we could be, and maybe even what we thought we could be.”
Dalhausser, a 2008 Olympic champion with Todd Rogers, and Rosenthal, a 2008 and 2012 Olympian with Jake Gibb, first teamed at the start of 2013. They’re both 35.
They won three FIVB events that first year and then three in 2014, more than any other pair.
“When we first got together, everyone was saying we were going to win every event — which didn’t happen,” Dalhausser said, according to Redbull.com. “But we did win the most events on the World Tour in 2013 and 2014. We were really inconsistent. We had some really bad finishes, and we had some good finishes.”
Dalhausser suffered a muscle tear in his left oblique May 28 playing in Moscow. He returned to play with Rosenthal in Yokohama, Japan, last week, when they were eliminated in the round of 16.
Dalhausser and Rosenthal haven’t made the semifinals of an FIVB World Tour event since last August’s World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach, Calif., which they won.
Dalhausser will now play with former partner Nick Lucena, and Rosenthal will play with Lucena’s now-former partner, Theo Brunner, according to Redbull.com.
“Nick plays a real similar game as my old partner Todd,” Dalhausser said, according to Redbull.com. “He’s the same type of player, same style. So I don’t think we’ll have a problem.”
Both new pairs now start from scratch in Olympic qualifying, with the main path through FIVB results from the start of 2015 through June 12, 2016. A nation cannot send more than two teams to the Olympics.
Excluding Lucena and Brunner, the top U.S. teams in the current standings are Gibb and Casey Patterson, who won an FIVB Grand Slam in St. Petersburg, Fla., in June, and 42-year-old 1996 and 2000 indoor volleyball Olympian John Hyden and Tri Bourne.