His body was definitely built for stuffing balls in front of a net, yet, at six-feet-nine, Phil “The Beast” Dalhausser finds himself blocking volleyballs, not basketballs. The AVP is probably happy Dalhausser chose to springboard off some sand instead of pursuing the greener pastures of the NBA, while Todd “The Professor” Rogers is just happy to have him as a teammate.

Collectively, the beach volleyball duo nabbed a gold medal in the Beijing Games and is the reigning FIVB world champion. Since joining forces in 2006, they have dominated the AVP circuit, consistently drawing a large following at each city of the annual tour, winning more than 20 domestic matches since finishing atop the competition in 2007.

During the Memorial Day Weekend, both Dalhausser and Rogers paid a visit to Southern California when they participated in the AVP Huntington Beach Tour – the fifth stop on the 2009 professional beach volleyball circuit. While about 2,500 adoring beach volleyball fans filled the makeshift stadium on the beach just south of the Huntington Beach Pier to admire the men’s and women’s Final Four of the second Southern California stop of the tour, the entire AVP circuit is quite the exciting spectacle. In addition to quality athletes competing against each other at 100 percent for three or four thrilling days, it is almost a shame more people do not trek to the local beaches when the AVP is in town.

More than anything, the players are humble, constantly interacting with fans while maintaining a high level of camaraderie with each other both on and off the sand.

“I always give him more credit than he deserves,” Rogers jokingly said about Dalhausser shortly after winning the Huntington Beach Open May 25, after the Beast clarified he had just one block in the open-winning match.

All joking aside, Rogers and Dalhausser represent the competitive fire of the AVP Tour.

“We’re just trying to win here,” Rogers tells Campus Circle. “Whoever is across the net is who we are trying to beat.”

Of course, one has to admire an athlete who knows the history of his or her respective sport, and of the three regular stops in Southern California – the AVP will return to Hermosa Beach in July and Manhattan Beach in August – Dalhausser pays homage to the local beaches and the role they play in the circuit.

“You have to be stoked about a Huntington Beach win,” Dalhausser adds, referring to the city’s long-standing participation in the AVP Tour. “It’s always good to win on a Southern California beach.”

And there is always the knowledgeable fan base, including the popular cheering section supporting the Sean Rosenthal-Jake Gibb team, who regularly face off against Dalhausser and Rogers in the men’s final game.

“Oh, we have to deal with that at every Southern California event,” the Beast jokingly said after both him and the Professor downed Rosenthal and Gibb to claim the Huntington Beach Open and its $24,000 cash prize.

Rogers countered with a little more seriousness about local beach volleyball fans, in general, adding: “They know the sport. They understand, especially when [Rosenthal] and I are making crazy digs. They get the difficulties we go through in setting, dealing with wind and what not. They appreciate it a little more.”

Here’s to hoping more fans nationwide appreciate the great skill and athleticism of professional beach volleyball players.