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Dalhausser-Lucena Win Olympics Beach Volleyball Thriller, Finish Unbeaten in Pool

Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena pulled out a wild three-set match over Italy's Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo on Thursday to finish undefeated in pool play at the Rio Olympics beach volleyball competition at Copacabana Beach

Dalhausser scored the deciding point on a surprising left-handed shot after a Lucena dig. The shot stunned Nicolai, who was setting up his block at the net, and gave the Americans a 21-13, 21-17, 24-22 victory.

“(The left hand) is only in case of emergency,” Dalhausser told reporters. “It’s something I’m somewhat comfortable with. I think I was 3-for-3 with it today, which doesn’t happen often.”

The third-set score was the highest scoring third set in Olympics beach volleyball history.

Both teams received a standing ovation after the match.

“Man, that was great to be a part of,” Lucena told reporters. “It would have been great to be a part of, win or lose. I’m glad we won. It was a high-level match.”

The former Santa Barbara residents dominated the first set and crushed the Italian pair, which in 2012 knocked out 2008 Gold Medalists Dalhausser and Todd Rogers in the Round of 16 at the London Olympics.

But the Italians regrouped in the second set behind the play of Lupo. He used off-speed shots and worked the ball over and around the big block of Dalhausser.

The third set went back and forth. Nicolai-Lupo were serving for the match at 21-20 but Dalhausser evened the score with a spike off the block. He then stuffed Lupo for a 22-21 advantage. Lucena had a chance to win the match after his second dig on a rally but his off-speed shot went wide, knotting the score at 22-all.

Lucena redeemed himself with a kill off the tape and his big dig that Dalhausser converted into the match-winning point.

By finishing unbeaten in pool play, Dalhausser-Lucena expect to get favorable draw for the knockout round. They'll learn their opposition on Friday.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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