TOKYO — The decades-long quest for the primary Olympic gold medal for the U.S. girls’s volleyball group ended Sunday when the People lastly broke by with a 25-21, 25-20, 25-14 victory over Brazil.
The USA, which had gained three silver medals and two bronze since first getting on the medal stand in 1984, bought to the highest step by beating the group that denied it an opportunity at gold within the closing match of the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
And former Colorado prep stars Haleigh Washington (Doherty) and Jordyn Poulter (Eaglecrest) each performed a job in making it occur.
Captain Jordan Larson, who was a part of that silver-winning group in 2012 and the bronze medal group 5 years in the past, paved the best way along with her management on the courtroom and her sturdy play on the assault and on protection.
Larson and center blocker Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson, who each got here again for a 3rd Olympics after falling brief in Rio de Janeiro, now have an entire medal assortment following the ultimate Olympic match of their careers.
The victory additionally allowed U.S. coach Karch Kiraly to hitch Lang Ping of China because the second individual to win gold as a volleyball participant after which lead a rustic to gold as coach. Kiraly gained gold indoor as a participant in 1984 and 1988. He additionally gained gold in seashore volleyball in 1996.
The U.S. bought off to a quick begin by scoring the primary 4 factors behind sturdy attacking by Michelle Bartsch-Hackley. It by no means trailed within the opening, successful it 25-21 on a smooth shot by Bartsch-Hackley that gave her eight factors within the set.
The People performed from forward for a lot of the second set as nicely, and Larson’s well-placed smooth shot on the internet put them up 22-17. They closed out the set when Carol Silva’s serve went lengthy.
That sample continued within the third set, and the match resulted in becoming fashion with a kill by Larson, finishing a sweep by the People of all 9 units within the knockout stage. The U.S. gamers all gathered on the ground in a tearful hug.
Brazil had gained gold in both males’s or girls’s indoor volleyball in 4 straight Olympics, with the lads claiming the title in 2004 and 2016 and the ladies in 2008 and 2012.
However it can depart solely with a silver this 12 months, after the ladies misplaced for the primary time in Tokyo following seven straight wins. The boys misplaced a semifinal match to the Russians after which the bronze medal recreation in opposition to Argentina.
Brazil performed the match short-handed after exterior hitter Tandara Caixeta was despatched residence earlier than the semifinals following her suspension for a possible violation of anti-doping guidelines. Tandara’s lawyer stated a banned substance present in a July check was launched unintentionally into her system.
The U.S. additionally handled absences. Reverse Jordan Thompson, who led the People in scoring within the first three matches, didn’t play once more after rolling her proper ankle within the fourth pool play match in opposition to the Russians.
However the depth that has made the U.S. one of many high groups the previous 20 years regardless of no gold medal overcame that and an damage that sidelined Poulter, a setter, for the quarterfinal. Annie Drews stepped up in Thompson’s place and the U.S. didn’t miss a beat.
The journey to this stage has been an extended one for a U.S. girls’s group that began greater than 40 years in the past when the 1980 Olympic squad made the choice to start year-round coaching, solely to get denied the chance to compete due to a U.S.-led boycott of the Video games in Moscow.
However the basis had been put in place, and the People have gained six medals prior to now 10 Olympics and now lastly have their gold.
Within the bronze medal recreation, Serbia beat South Korea 25-18, 25-15, 25-15 to go residence with a girls’s volleyball medal for the second straight Olympics. The Serbians gained silver in 2016 for his or her first medal within the sport.
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