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2018-03-04 03:46:00 CET

The final step

Dalhausser and Lucena are one win away of the gold medal in the #FTLMajor

Lucena's defensive game helped the Americans to march to the gold medal matchLucena's defensive game helped the Americans to march to the gold medal match

Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena entered the 2018 Fort Lauderdale Major with a plan, which will reach its final stage on Sunday, when the veteran Americans will play for the gold medal of the first Beach Major Series event of the season against Italians Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo at 1pm (EST) in the Red Bull Beach Arena.

The top-seeded team of the tournament, the Americans reached the coveted gold medal match in their home state with five victories and are yet to even drop a set on their way. Their latest win came in the semifinal, where they cruised past Latvians Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins in two sets (21-14, 21-12) in front of a packed Red Bull Beach Arena.

“Honestly, it’s the first tournament of the year and we didn’t play in six months, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Lucena said after the match. “It was definitely our best match in the tournament and that’s our goal, to try to keep getting better.”

Beach Volleyball on Twitter

MATCH POINT!! @PhilDalhausser @NicklucenaFSU ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ finish their 2-0 win over @SamoilovSmedins ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป & punch their ticket in the #FTLMajor Final! #BeachWorldTour https://t.co/Gn2ocRKQS9

The last hurdle between the Americans and the gold medal are Lupo and Nicolai. The silver medalists of Rio 2016 Games and reigning Europeans champions want to be only the second team from their continent to triumph on American soil.

The retrospect favors Dalhausser and Lucena, who won three of the four matches they played against the Italians so far.

“They are really good, it will be another tough match,” Dalhausser, who scored eight block points in the semifinal, told us. “Lupo is one of the best side out players in the world and Nicolai is one of the best blockers. They are a different type of them than Latvia. They are more traditional, with a big guy and a smaller defender, so let’s see what we can do.”

Samoilovs and Smedins, who played in a Beach Major Series semifinal for the first time since 2016, will now fight for the bronze medal with Brazilians Pedro Solberg and George Wanderley. The third-place match of the Fort Lauderdale Major starts at 11am (EST).

“We tried to play our game, but Phil killed us in the net,” said Janis. “Now we have to forget this match. The Brazilians don’t have such a tall blocker, but we need to play our game like we did against Alison/Bruno and the Polish. If we do that, we can win. If we play like in the semifinal, we can lose in pool play.”

Beach Volleyball Major Series on Twitter

If you can't be here at #FTLMajor - you can watch all games live at our #BeachStream ๐Ÿ“บ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ https://t.co/WluNq81fW1 #hellosunny #GivesYouWings #wawa

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