After 2 losses, US men volleyball stuns Brazil in 4 sets
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 12, 2016 12:14 PM
United States' David Lee celebrates after defeating Brazil during a men's preliminary volleyball match at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
JANIE McCAULEY, AP Sports Writer
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Mouth agape, Matt Anderson yelled from every ounce of his being to celebrate big hit after pounding big hit.
After two forgettable preliminary matches by the U.S. men's volleyball team and facing the real possibility of near-Olympic elimination, Anderson and the Americans stunned Brazil in four sets Thursday to deny the previously unbeaten host nation a quarterfinal berth.
With Anderson leading the charge for a roster packed with Olympic first-timers, the U.S. delivered its best and most inspired performance yet.
Anderson brought it with his jump serve, his big hitting and reliable passing in a 25-20, 25-23, 20-25, 25-20 victory that left the raucous, flag-waving pro-Brazil crowd at Maracanazinho arena in utter disbelief.
The U.S. snapped a four-match losing streak to Brazil in international competition since winning the World League gold medal on July 20, 2014. When Brazil's kill attempt sailed long on match point, the Americans could truly jump up and down to cheer their first victory at the Rio de Janeiro Games — and one that will be remembered by a captivated U.S. crowd back home that weighed in on social media with shoutouts.
The Americans had lost twice to Brazil this year, but beat the Brazilians in an exhibition USA Volleyball Cup series match last August.
Anderson, who already had scored 20 points early in the fourth set, set the tone from the opening serve of the late-night match beginning at nearly 11 p.m. local time.
The 6-foot-8 outside hitter pumped his tattooed arms and yelled out "Yeah!"
Erik Shoji saved two balls with lunging, one-handed gets to keep a point alive and put the Americans ahead 6-2 in the fourth — the back-row specialist diving into the U.S. bench and also over the end line during the sequence, when Anderson made a great save of his own.
During a back-and-forth first set, balls were coming across the net so hard that one kill slammed into Shoji's chest and sent the U.S. libero to the floor.
Brazil had only dropped two sets over its first two matches.
Earlier Thursday, Argentina and Poland played the longest set so far in the Olympic tournament, with the Poles outlasting the Argentines 37-35 in a back-and-forth third set on the way to a sweep.
Poland (3-0) needed six match points to close it out and remain unbeaten in Pool B while handing Argentina (2-1) its first defeat with the 25-21, 25-19, 37-35 victory. Poland advanced to the quarterfinals.
Poland's players leapt in the air to celebrate finally ending a match that had fans of both countries on their feet dancing in the stands and waving flags.
Italy, playing without injured captain Emanuele Birarelli because of a sprained right ankle, topped Mexico in straight sets, 25-17, 25-13, 25-17.