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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 won a hard-fought five-set victory over Russia on Friday, earning a trip to the finals and guaranteeing them their first Olympic medal since 1992.
The U.S. remain undefeated in Beijing _ despite playing without their coach for three matches _ and will face the winner of the late semifinal between Brazil and Italy in the title match Sunday. Russia plays the loser in the bronze medal match.
With the 25-22, 25-21, 25-27, 22-25, 15-13 victory, the men join the U.S. women, who also advanced to their gold-medal match Saturday against Brazil. It is the first time since 1984 in Los Angeles that both teams will play for the gold.
The men won gold medals in 1984 and 1988, before winning the bronze in Barcelona. But the closest they've gotten since then was a fourth-place finish at the 2004 Athens games.
The Americans and Russians 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 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.
"I came alive. All match long I didn't think I played my best volleyball," Lee said. "I got it going in the end."
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.
And they won despite considerable adversity.
Before competition started, coach Hugh McCutcheon was called hastily away from practice. 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 left the team to be with his family, and missed three matches before his mother-in-law was taken back to the United States by air ambulance. Assistant Ron Larsen was interim head coach.
The United States team has marked their shoes with the initials of Todd and Barbara Bachman during the competition.


Updated : 2021-07-25 06:59 GMT+08:00