Petr David Josek, Associated Press
LONDON — To be honest, Todd Rogers said, he thought his hit that helped put the Americans one point away from victory was illegal, too.
Rogers took a spike off the chest and then popped it up into the air for teammate Phil Dalhausser, who passed it back for Rogers to clear out. Whether that should count as three hits or four — one too many — depends on whom you ask, but in the referee's opinion it was a legal hit that gave the Americans a 14-12 lead.
"I told him (the referee) I thought it was a double-hit," Rogers said after holding on to win 19-21, 21-16, 15-13 and remain unbeaten in the preliminary round of the Olympic beach volleyball tournament. "He said it was all one motion. ... It's a judgment call."
Beach volleyball teams have three hits to get the ball back over the net, but contact made while attempting a block doesn't count. In the referee's judgment, the ball bounced off Rogers' chest and wrist before the player could react and thus only counted as one hit.
But Spain's Pablo Herrera vociferously disagreed, arguing with the referee Marc Berard of France until he was given a yellow card, then continued to argue. (A second yellow card would have cost them a point — in this case, match point.)
The Spaniards won the next point when Herrera crossed his shot in front of Dalhausser's attempted block, but Rogers found an unoccupied part of the court on the next point for the clincher.
Rogers went over to Berard after the match and asked about the call, telling the official that he thought he had committed a violation; the referee held his ground. Herrera also went back over to the referee, and not quite as politely, berating him on the court until Berard walked off with the other officials.
"I spoke with him why he did not call that," Herrera said. "I thought it was four hits."
The Americans were in trouble the entire first set, and Spain clinched it 21-19 when Rogers missed a serve and then attempted two crosscourt shots but put them into the net instead. The U.S. pair took an eight-point lead in the second and held on to win 21-16, then opened a 5-1 lead in the third.
The victory guarantees that the Americans will not be eliminated in pool play. Their final match of the preliminary round is against the Czech Republic on Thursday.
"We really made it hard on ourselves tonight," Dalhausser said. "We gave that first set away. We had so many darn opportunities to score points. We're really lucky to come out with a W."
Earlier Tuesday, defending world champions and top-seeded Emanuel and Alison of Brazil earned their second straight win, beating Switzerland. The Brazilians won 21-17, 21-12 over Patrick Heuscher and Jefferson Bellaguarda to remain atop their pool.
In other men's action Tuesday, the Czechs beat Japan 17-21, 21-12, 15-7; Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins of Latvia beat Venezuela, 21-14, 21-16; and the Netherlands beat Germany's Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik in straight sets and Austria beat Italy 21-18, 21-17.
On the women's side, Spain beat Argentina 22-20, 21-16; Madelein Meppelink and Sophie van Gestel of the Netherlands beat Becchara Palmer and Louise Bawden of Australia 21-19, 21-15 for the first beach volleyball victory in Dutch women's history. Italy beat Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin of Britain 21-18, 21-12 and Russia beat Canada, 21-18, 28-30, 15-13.
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