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US beats Russia to reach Olympic volleyball final

US beats Russia to reach Olympic volleyball final

The U.S. men's volleyball team will play for the Olympic gold medal after defeating Russia in five sets on Friday.
With the 25-22, 25-21, 25-27, 22-25, 15-13 victory, the U.S. men remain undefeated in Beijing.
They play the winner of the late semifinal between Brazil and Italy in the title match on Sunday. Russia plays the loser in the bronze medal match.
The U.S. won Olympic gold medals in 1984 and 1988, before winning the bronze in 1992. But the closest they've gotten since then was a fourth-place finish at the 2004 Athens games.
It is the first time since 1984 in Los Angeles that both the U.S. men and women have advanced to the gold medal match. The women play Brazil on Saturday for the title.
Russia was the bronze medalist in Athens and the silver medalist in 2000. The team won gold medals in 1964, 1968 and 1980. In Beijing, the Russians went 4-1 in preliminary pool play, with a loss to Poland, before defeating Bulgaria 3-1 in the semifinals.
After winning all five matches in the preliminary round, the U.S. men beat Serbia in the quarterfinals 3-2 to advance.
On Friday, the two teams played a close first set, but the U.S. went up 17-16 on Stanley Clayton's ace, then added another point on Sergey Grankin's errant spike. The U.S. won it when Maxim Mikhaylov's spike went long.
Russia took a 16-13 lead in the second after Alexander Kosarev's block. But the United States had three straight points in the end to take the set. Reid Priddy scored with a pair of successful spikes, before Yury Berezkho's spike went into the net to give the U.S. the set.
Alexey Kuleshov's block put Russia ahead 17-13 in the third set for their biggest margin to that point. The Russians extended the lead to 20-15, but the United States rallied again to even it at 24 before Russia won it on Alexander Volkov's block.
That led to a tense fourth set. Russia was up 19-16 and went on to win it on Sergey Tetyukhin's spike _ putting the pro-Russian crowd on its feet.
Priddy's spike put the U.S. in front 6-3 in the deciding set, but the tenacious Russians kept pace and briefly went ahead until David Lee's block made it 13-12 for the U.S. team.
Lee scored the final four points for the U.S., including the match-winning spike. He pumped his fist as he was mobbed by his teammates.
The U.S. men have faced considerable adversity in their remarkable run to the gold medal match.
Before competition started, coach Hugh McCutcheon was called hastily away from practice. Later, the team learned that his father-in-law, Todd Bachman, had been fatally stabbed at a popular tourist site in Beijing. Bachman's wife, Barbara, was badly hurt.
McCutcheon is married to the Bachman's daughter, former Olympian Elisabeth "Wiz" Bachman McCutcheon, who played for the U.S. women in Athens.
The coach took leave from the team to be with his family. Assistant Ron Larsen was made interim head coach.
McCutcheon missed three matches before returning to the team when his mother-in-law was taken home by air ambulance.
The United States team has marked their shoes with the initials of Todd and Barbara Bachman during the competition.


Updated : 2021-01-19 10:08 GMT+08:00