USA Women Take Silver After Loss to Brazil in Volleyball Final
Bill Kauffman, USA Volleyball
U.S. Women Take Silver Again in Olympic Rematch
The top-ranked U.S. Olympic Women's Volleyball Team fell one victory shy of winning its first-ever Olympic Games gold-medal for the second quadrennial in a row in an 11-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17 loss to No. 2 Brazil Saturday in the title match at Earls Court in London.
The U.S. Women finished the tournament with a 7-1 record and 30-2 record in 2012. Brazil, which was on the verge of not qualifying for the quarterfinals heading into the final pool day, finished with a 6-2 record in defending its 2008 Olympic Games title in a gold-medal rematch with the Americans. In the process, Brazil snapped a six-match losing streak to the United States dating back to 2011.
The U.S. was playing in its third Olympic Games title match, only to have golden dreams dashed for silver in losses to Brazil at the 2008 Beijing Games and to China at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Team USA now has four overall Olympic women's volleyball medals that include a bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
At the 2008 Olympic Games, Brazil won its first-ever women's volleyball gold-medal over the Americans as the top seed and favorite to win, while the U.S. entered the Olympics as a dark horse to win a medal. In 2012, Team USA was the favorite to win its first-ever gold.
The U.S. bolted to an early 7-2 lead in the opening set and never let up in a 25-11 victory. U.S. captain Lindsey Berg (Honolulu), who has announced her intentions to retire after the Olympics, had service runs of 6-0 and 5-0 in the set.Team USA came back from an 11-6 deficit in the second set to tie the score at 12-all, but Brazil responded with a 6-0 run en route to a 25-17 victory and controlled the rest of the match. Brazil reached a 14-9 lead in the third set and never allowed the U.S. closer than two points the rest of the way for a 25-20 victory.
"I think they made less errors," four-time U.S. Olympian Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) said. "Their serving picked up. We couldn't really run a sideout as well as we usually can, just passing. We just had a little bit of trouble in that area so they just got a string of points. It's always hard to come back in volleyball, especially against a good team when they get ahead of you."
"They played better than us today, simple as that," U.S. Olympic Women's Volleyball Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon said.
Tom scored 11 kills and three blocks for 14 points. Destinee Hooker (San Antonio, Texas) collected 13 kills and an ace for 14 points. Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) chipped in eight kills and three blocks for 11 points. Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) tallied six points on four kills, one block and one ace. Christa Harmotto (Hopewell Township, Pa.) charted three kills and a block for four points. Jordan Larson (Hooper, Neb.) added four kills while Berg totaled two points. Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) and Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) rounded out the scoring with a point each.
Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.), Tom and Hooker all recorded nine digs. Berg handled 35 running sets in the loss.
"I think in sets two and three we kind of got away from each other and got on our own little islands instead of regrouping and playing as a team," Hooker said. "I think they had a lot of great serving. They were serving hard and tough and really deep. I think our team wasn't ready for that. We adjusted the way we could. We made a few changes and tried to step it up a notch but it just wasn't enough. At the end of the day, it could have been worse. We could have not been on the podium at all. So I'm thankful for this honor."
McCutcheon started Tom and Larson at outside hitter, Akinradewo and Harmotto at middle blocker, Hooker at opposite and Berg at setter. Davis is the U.S. designated libero for the Olympic Games. Hodge started the fourth set after subbing in the second and third sets. Scott-Arruda started the fourth set after subbing in the third set. Tamari Miyashiro (Kaneohe, Hawaii) was a sub in the third set.
Scott-Arruda, Tom, Berg, Haneef-Park and Davis are all repeat Olympic medalists from the 2008 Olympics. Prior to 2012, current U.S. Olympic Women's Volleyball Team assistant coach Paula Weishoff was the only other two-time Olympic medalists in women's volleyball. Karch Kiraly, current assistant coach for the team, won two gold medals while playing for the U.S. Olympic Men's Volleyball Team in 1984 and 1988 and one playing in the inaugural beach volleyball event at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
"Congratulations to the U.S. Women's Volleyball Team on winning the silver medal today!" said Tom Tait, mayor of the City of Anaheim where the U.S. Women ‘s National Volleyball Team trains. "We are proud of the women for their success on the court, as well as their representation of our country and their official host city of Anaheim. We look forward to welcoming them home and giving them a champion's welcome!"
Team USA held a 9-7 block advantage and a .281 to .257 hitting efficiency, but Brazil held a sizeable 63-37 advantage in digs to keep plays alive.
"They're a great team," Hooker said of Brazil, where she played professionally last season. "They were 2008 champions and now they're 2012. We hope we see them again in Rio."
Brazil's Jaqueline Carvalho led all scorers with 18 points, while Sheilla Castro added 15 points. Fabiana Claudino totaled 14 points and Fernanda Rodrigues pocketed 12 points.
The Americans reached the title match in dominating fashion by advanced through Pool B with wins over No. 15 Korea (3-1), No. 2 Brazil (3-1), No. 3 China (3-0), No. 7 Serbia (3-0) and No. 8 Turkey (3-0). The U.S. advanced to the semifinals with a sweep over NORCECA rival Dominican Republic in the quarterfinal round, then claimed a 3-0 win over Korea to reach the title match.
Earlier today Japan won the bronze medal with a 25-22, 26-24, 25-21 victory over Korea.
The U.S. reached a 5-1 lead in the opening set with kills from Tom and Akinradewo between Brazil service error and attack errors, capped by an Akinradewo block heading into a Brazil timeout. Team USA scored a sixth straight point on Berg's serve with a Brazil attack error. The U.S. stretched its advantage to 9-3 with a Larson kill and Brazil error. Hooker notched a kill and ace on back-to-back rallies to expand the lead to 11-4. Consecutive Brazil errors pushed the American lead to 13-5 at Brazil's second timeout. Berg put up a block and Hooker followed with a kill off the block to extend the American lead to 16-7 at the second technical timeout. Team USA reached a 12-point lead at 19-7 on a Brazil error and a kill and block by Hooker on a 5-0 scoring run on Berg's serve. The Americans inched the lead to 22-8 with an Akinradewo kill and consecutive Brazil attack errors. Hooker downed a kill and USA reached set points at 24-10 on a Brazil attack error. Larson ended the set with a cross-court winner at 25-11. Hooker and Akinradewo each scored four points in the opening set and the U.S. benefited from three blocks and nine Brazil errors.
Brazil scored the first three points of the second set, but Tom and Hooker answered with kills and Brazil hit a free ball out of bounds to knot the score at 3-all. Brazil broke back with three consecutive points for a 6-3 cushion at an American timeout. Thaisa served an ace out of the break to extend Brazil's advantage to 7-3. Akinradewo put up a block to stop the 4-0 run and Larson followed with a kill to slice the deficit to 7-5. Brazil upped its margin to 11-6 on three unanswered points. Out of a USA timeout Hooker produced a kill, Brazil hit wide and Harmotto hammered a slide to narrow the gap to 11-9 at a Brazil timeout. Team USA squared the set at 12-all with a Berg kill, followed by a block and kill by Tom. Brazil went into the second technical timeout on a 4-0 run at 16-12. Brazil scored a fifth and sixth straight points at 18-12 with two more out of the break. Brazil pushed its lead to 23-15 on three unanswered points. Brazil capped the set at 25-17 to even the match at one set each. Tom and Hooker each tallied five points in the second set, but Brazil accumulated 20 kills in the set after only five in the first set.
Brazil collected the first two points of the third set, then increased its margin to 6-2 on three unanswered points going into a USA timeout. The Americans cut the deficit to 6-5 with a Harmotto block between two Brazil errors. However, Brazil reached the first technical timeout with a block at 8-5. Brazil tallied four of five points to take a 14-9 advantage. Hodge, Tom and Haneef-Park picked up consecutive kills to close the U.S. to 15-13. Brazil regained a three-point edge at 17-13 with points on each side of the second technical timeout. However, Scott-Arruda put down a kill and Tom put up a block to close to 17-15. Brazil answered with consecutive points at 19-15. Tom and Hooker hammered kills to slice the gap to 20-18. Brazil increased its lead to 23-19 after winning a long rally. Brazil finished the third set at 25-20 on back-to-back points. Akinradewo contributed five points in the third set, while Tom added four points.
Brazil scored three unanswered points in the fourth set to gain a 5-2 advantage at Team USA's first timeout. Hodge scored a block and ace to slice the gap to 6-5. Brazil tallied points on both side of the first technical timeout to stretch the lead to 9-6. Brazil upped its lead to 14-9 on three straight points going into Team USA's second timeout. Brazil went into the second technical timeout up 16-10 on a block as part of a 5-1 run. Brazil continued its charge to the title at 19-11 with three straight points. Team USA tallied consecutive points on Brazil errors and Tom put up a block to close to 19-14. Brazil reached a 23-14 advantage with four straight points. Tom connected for back-to-back kills and Brazil hit into the net at 23-17. But Brazil closed out the set and Olympic title with the last two points at 25-17.
2012 U.S. Olympic Women's Volleyball Team
# - Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
2 - Danielle Scott-Arruda (MB, 6-2, Baton Rouge, La., Long Beach State)
3 - Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Opp, 6-7, Laguna Hills, Calif., Long Beach State)
4 - Lindsey Berg (S, 5-8, Honolulu, Hawaii, Minnesota)
5 - Tamari Miyashiro (L, 5-7, Kaneohe, Hawaii, Washington)
6 - Nicole Davis (L, 5-4, Stockton, Calif., Southern California)
10 - Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Neb., Nebraska)
11 - Megan Hodge (OH, 6-3, Durham, N.C., Penn State)
13 - Christa Harmotto (MB, 6-2, Hopewell, Pa., Penn State)
15 - Logan Tom (OH, 6-1, Salt Lake City, Utah, Stanford)
16 - Foluke Akinradewo (MB, 6-3, Plantation, Fla., Stanford)
17 - Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, Kent, Wash., Washington)
19 - Destinee Hooker (Opp, 6-4, San Antonio, Texas, Texas)
Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Assistant Coach: Karch Kiraly (San Clemente, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: Paula Weishoff (Irvine, Calif.)
Assistant Coach/Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison (Dana Point, Calif.)
Technical Coordinator: Giuseppe Vinci (Casteggio, Italy)
Team Manager: Ken Sullivan (Laguna Beach, Calif.)
Consultant Coach: Marv Dunphy (Malibu, Calif.)
Athletic Trainer/Medical Support: Jill Wosmek (Silver Lake, Minn.)
Doctor: Dr. William Stetson
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