SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, August 14, 2003 – After a disappointing loss to Cuba in the Pan American Games men’s Volleyball semifinals on Wednesday, Team USA are preparing for Friday's bronze medal match against the world’s No. 1 team Brazil in the Pabellon de Voleibol at Olympic Park.
Venezuela pulled off the upset of the tournament when it shocked top-seeded Brazil in Wednesday’s second semifinal, 3-2, to earn a place in the gold medal match against Cuba on Friday.
Brazil, the World and World League champions, will be the most formidable opponent to date for the United States, which had a 10-match winning streak stopped with Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Cuba.
“It’s certainly great that we get to play Brazil because we haven’t had a chance to play a lot of good teams (this season),” said Team USA head coach Doug Beal. “We are obviously disappointed (with the loss to Cuba) and we will have to recover emotionally from a match that we felt like we played poorly in but could have had a chance to win.”
The United States opened the season with five matches against Korea in June and played three matches against Canada in July before coming to the Pan American Games, where they defeated Barbados, Dominican Republic and Venezuela to advance to last night’s semifinal.
“The opportunity to play Brazil is a plus; it’s a bonus,” revealed Beal. “Venezuela played a wonderful match to beat them. And that was good for our guys to see because the inexperience is sometimes better served by what they see than what the coach tells them.”
Team USA was the only team to pin a loss on Brazil at the 2002 World Championships, (3-2 - 25-22, 20-25, 25-27, 33-31, 15-12) and the 2001 World League.
So for the United States to beat Brazil for a second consecutive time it will need some of its younger players to step up and play nearly flawless volleyball.
“We’re not the same team we were at the World Championships, but some of our younger guys, I think, are better, so it will be good for us to play them,” said Beal. “I absolutely think we have a chance to win the match.
“I am looking forward to the match, very much, because I think we need those opportunities to help this team grow.”