RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Florida State alum Nick Lucena along with Phil Dalhausser dominated their first match of the knockout stage as they cruised to a victory over Austria’s Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl, 21-14, 21-15 in the Round of 16.Set one saw both teams hold close, ties included at 6-all before the U.S. began to pull away 11-7 following Lucena slicing one diagonal with no defender covering.
Not too long after the Americans made it 16-8 after a dig by Lucena set Dalhausser up perfectly for a kill. Dalhausser and Lucena finished the frame off, 21-14.
Opening the second set 3-1 wasn’t enough for the pair, as they watched Austria battle back into the game, 8-7. At 15-12, Austria unsuccessfully challenged for a net fault, ensuring the momentum would stick with the Americans.
“I think Nick played well,” said Dalhausser. “He dug so many balls. The little guy on their team – we call him Zandy – he’s one of the best defenders out there. I think Nick out-dug him, if you will, and he sided-out great. I didn’t have to do much. I had a couple blocks and a few aces and he did the rest.”
Dalhausser and Lucena played with urgency following the challenge, picking up points to go ahead 19-13 and finish the match 21-15.
“Those guys are scrappy,” said Lucena. “We had a good game plan, kind of keep it on Zandy [Alexander Huber] and hopefully get a couple digs and we did. Phil got us the lead in the first with some aces. I thought we sided-out well.”
Lucena logged 31 attacks along with 18 digs and an ace, while Dalhausser posted two blocks, three aces and 17 attempts.
Dalhausser/Lucena will play Alison/Bruno Schmidt of Brazil on Monday at 3 p.m.
“We got our wish to play Brazil in front of a Brazilian crowd. It should be a ton of fun,” said Dalhausser. “I’ve been in that situation a few times, obviously not in the Olympics, so they should be ramped up a little bit, but hopefully we’ll play well.”
*USA Volleyball contributed to this report.