=== Volleyball: U.S. sputters in bronze medal match; Brazil golden ===
Athens, Greece (Sports Network) - The United States was swept in three sets by
Russia in the men's volleyball bronze medal match on Sunday, the final day of
the Athens Games. Brazil won gold later on with a four-set victory over Italy
in the final.
Russia rolled to a 25-22, 27-25, 25-26 victory, claiming the bronze in just 78
minutes. The Russians were coming off a silver medal performance at Sydney in
2000; the Americans were searching for their first medal in men's volleyball
since winning bronze in 1992.
"I have mixed feelings today," said U.S. middle blocker Tom Hoff. "I am very
happy taking part in the Olympic Games, but I am disappointed about our
performance. The Russians played a lot better. They deserve the medal."
The first set was tied 22-22 before Russia rattled off three straight points to
claim it, sealing the deal on Sergey Baranov's spike. The Americans then
reached the first set point in the second frame, 24-23, but the Russians scored
four of the next five points for a commanding lead.
The third set was never close.
"Things didn't go well for us today," said U.S. wing spiker William Priddy.
"It was kind of unexpected. We did our best, but it was not enough. We didn't
have it. We had confidence, we were ready, but we lost the game."
Brazil needed 97 minutes to dispatch Italy, 25-15, 24-26, 25-20, 25-22, in a
matchup between FIVB's top-two ranked teams. The win gave Brazil its third
Olympic medal and second gold (Barcelona, 1992); Italy claimed its fourth
overall Olympic volleyball medal.
It was Brazil's third win over Italy this season, following a July victory in
the World League final and a five-set win in the Athens preliminaries. Since
the Sydney Games in 2000, the Brazilians are 9-2 against the Italians.
"We have two medals now," said Gilberto Gogoy Gilho, wing spiker for Brazil,
"one for the World Championships and one for the Olympic Games. That is all
Added teammate Andre Nascimento: "We are the winners. We did it. We are the
gold medalists. This is Brazil."
08/29 10:41:41 ET