Rio #22 – Gold Medal hopes fall for Women at the Maracanazinho
Greetings from a Balmy Rio,
The reality of being a sports fan hit us all yesterday at the Marcanazinho Arena as the U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team’s bid to win its first-ever Olympic gold came up two points short in the semifinals as it fell to Serbia 15-13 in the 5th Set. The turning point of the match came when Team USA’s Middle Hitter Foluke Akinradewo went down with an injury early in the second set and Serbia raced out to a 7-3 lead, never allowing the Americans back into the set, winning 25-17. For the rest of the match Team USA was trying to find a viable replacement for Akinradewo while trying to slow down two of the best women players in the world, Brankica Mihalovic and Tijana Boskovic, who have been unstoppable in Rio.
They loss was so tough but was summarized brilliantly by head Coach and Volleyball Legend Karch Kiraly, “First of all I want to congratulate Serbia on winning the match and the right to play for a gold medal here in Rio de Janeiro. They played a great match. I also want to congratulate our team. We are incredibly proud of the way we battled through some real adversity today, falling down 2-1 and all that was going on and putting ourselves into a position where we could make that win possible. Then Serbia made some great plays down the stretch. They earned a victory that they certainly should be very proud of.”
Brankica Mihalovic (Serbia), the most dominant woman’s hitter in the world
Team USA has to regroup quickly in an effort to win the bronze on Saturday at noon ET on NBC against the Netherlands.
In the second Semi final on the Women’s side, Chian behind it’s star, Ju Ting and the outstanding coaching of international volleyball Legend “Jenny” Lang Ping, outlasted a VERY feisty and hard hitting team from the Netherlands to advance to the gold medal match.
Today at 12 noon/et on NBC, the Men return to the Maracanzinho looking for it’s 4th straight win in Rio, after starting 0-2, along with a spot in the Gold Medal match on Sunday.
Most of the USA players are first-time Olympians and, after a nervy start, they come into today’s match with more confidence, having beaten Poland in straight sets. Their opponent Italy has had the upper hand this year – they have beaten the Americans in two of the last three meetings, including a 3-1 win in pool play. Italy also features the top two hitters in the whole tournament, Osmany Juantorena and Ivan Zaytsev.
The second spot for the Men’s Gold will go to either Russia or Brazil who face off tonite at 9:15 pm/et on NBCSN (Live) … Russia is a giant team and Brazil is a bit beaten up with small injuries but will be riding a VERY raucous home crowd …
Two great matches today, six more total for our month (39 total matches) and we are so excited to be close to crowning our champions tomorrow and Sunday.
Cool shot from the Hilton Barra, my home away from home this past month in Rio.
So much amazing Street Art in Rio … Another layer of beauty that defines this magical place.
My Control Room the past month …
Keep watching and don’t forget to follow me on instagram (@JAWPRODS) for more photos and stories!