By B.J. Hoeptner Evans

The U.S. men's beach volleyball team of Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal finished the 2012 Olympic Games in fifth place on Monday after falling to No. 17 Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins of Latvia, 19-21, 21-18, 15-11 in 58 minutes in the quarterfinals at Horse Guards Parade.

Gibb (Bountiful, Utah) and Rosenthal (Redondo Beach, Calif.), who were seeded No. 4 in the tournament, were competing in their second Olympic Games after finishing fifth in 2008 in Beijing. They complete the tournament with a 3-2 record.

Plavins and Smedins will play Brazil's No. 1 Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti in Tuesday's semifinals (time TBD).

"I felt the whole way through like we were going to pull it off," Gibb said. "I felt like we were going to come back when we were down 7-3. I don't know what happened."

Gibb called the loss the "most disappointing loss of my career."

Plavins and Smedins led the U.S. team in kills (37-35), aces (3-1) and digs (22-20). The teams tied in blocks (4-4).

"They took advantage of their breaks. The ball bounced their way off the block," Rosenthal said of Latvia. "They're a really good defensive team. They dig a lot of balls and keep a lot of rallies alive. They made plays when they had to."

The teams battled back and forth to a 6-6 tie in the first set when the U.S. scored on Rosenthal's kill and Gibb's block. Plavins scored with a kill, but the U.S. scored two more points on a Gibb kill and Latvian hitting error to lead 10-7. The U.S. team extended the lead to five at 16-11 and 17-12 when Latvia mounted a comeback on two Smedins kills and a Plavins ace along with a U.S. error to pull to within one at 17-16. But the U.S. held them off with two quick points on kills to lead 19-16. The U.S. reached set point at 20-17, but Plavins scored twice on kills before the U.S. won the set on Plavins' hitting error.

The teams again battled to a 6-6 tie in the second set, but this time Latvia scored twice on an attack and ace from Smedins to lead 8-6. Latvia led 10-8 when the U.S. tied the score on a Gibb kill and Rosenthal block. The teams continue to battle back and forth until the score was tied at 18-18. Smedins carried Latvia to set point with a block and kill before Plavins won the set with a kill.

Latvia jumped to a 3-1 lead in the third set on two Plavins attacks and a U.S. error. The Latvians increased the lead to four at 6-2. With Latvia leading 7-3, the U.S. pulled to within two on a kill and block from Gibb. Latvia called timeout and came back to score on a Plavins attack. The teams battled back and forth until Latvia led 12-8. The U.S. scored twice on two Gibb kills to pull to within two at 12-10. But it was too little, too late. Latvia reached match point on Plavins' kill and a U.S. error. Rosenthal scored with a final attack before Plavins won it with a kill.


Originally published by USA Volleyball (



Olympic Beach Volleyball: Gibb and Rosenthal Finish in Fifth