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US beats Brazil for gold in men's volleyball

Beijing, China (Sports Network) - The United States men's indoor volleyball team beat Brazil in four sets Sunday to win the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.

The Americans rallied back from an opening-set loss for a 20-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-23 victory and their first Olympic medal in men's indoor volleyball since winning a silver at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

Brazil was trying for an indoor volleyball gold medal sweep after its women's team defeated the U.S. in four sets on Saturday night.

Earlier on Sunday, Russia defeated Italy in straight sets for the men's bronze.

The Americans won gold in men's volleyball for the first time since back-to- back first-place finishes in 1984 and '88.

They rallied together for a perfect 8-0 record after a family member of head coach Hugh McCutcheon was stabbed to death in downtown Beijing on the first day of competition.

McCutcheon, whose father-in-law was slain by a Chinese attacker, returned to the team for the last five games.

"I think when that kind of thing happens, the guys get a good taste of what's important in life," said American Sean Rooney. "We were crushed by that. I mean, when you go out on the court, it's just a game of volleyball."

But the U.S. team battled back from being crushed to win the gold medal for the first time in 20 years.

Along the way were five wins in nine days, including a five-set victory against Venezuela on Aug. 10 -- two days after to tragic killing of Todd Bachman, father of former U.S. women's team member Elisabeth Bachman, who is McCutcheon's wife.

Then, three wins in the medal round, including victories against Serbia and tough Russia. And finally, Sunday's comeback win over the Brazilians.

"For four years these guys have played for the common goal -- to be here for this match," said Rooney. "We put so much effort and energy into this thing and we spent so much time together.

"Now it has happened for us."

08/24 08:15:46 ET


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