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Press Release
USA Men claim first Olympic gold in 20 years with victory over Brazil

FIVB President Dr. Rubén Acosta awards the USA gold-medal team
Beijing, China, August 24, 2008 - USA upset 2004 Athens Olympic champions and world No. 1 Brazil 3-1 to win the gold medal in the Men's Olympic Volleyball Tournament for the first time in 20 years on Sunday. FIVB President Dr. Rubén Acosta presented the gold-medal winning USA players with special bouquets of flowers at the awarding ceremony.

The Americans won 20-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-23 in front of 13,000 spectators at Capital Indoor Stadium in 2 hours, 5 minutes.

Russia, three times Olympic champions, retained the bronze medal they won in Athens four years ago by beating Italy 25-22, 25-19, 25-23 earlier in the day in front of 11,500 spectators.

It's the third gold for the American Men's Volleyball players, who also won the gold-medal match at the 1984 Los Angeles and 1988 Seoul Games.

Together with the silver medal in the Women's event and two gold medals in Beach Volleyball, the one-time Volleyball empire announced its revival in Beijing in an almost-perfect way.

The newly crowned FIVB World League champion USA proved their quality with a victory in this game of strength and delicacy, skill and bluff, and individual energy and teamwork.

Brazil, who also won Olympic gold in 1992 in Barcelona dominated the opener with powerful serves and unyielding defense, thanks to the stunning Andre Heller and captain Giba. The Americans could barely organize effective counterattacks for their poor reception, surrendering the set 25-20.

The U.S. wing spiker Clayton Stanley came to the rescue at the second set with devastating serves and high-jump spikes. Staying within an early lead 8-1, David Lee and William Priddy launched a brilliant wave of attacks to the Brazilian court to level up to 20-15.

Giba's ace serves and spikes helped Brazil to catch up as close as 21-20. But it was Stanley again who scored two points in a row to take the set point 24-21. Andre saved one set point with an ace serve, but Stanley clinched the set for the U.S. 25-22 with a spike. The Americans kept their winning momentum with even better defense to take the third set 25-21.

The two sides fought closely in the fourth set before a 20-20 draw, when Stanley broke the tie and helped the Americans lead 23-21 with two kill blocks. Ryan Millar's spike added one point to push it to 24-22.

Andre saved one match point with spike, but Stanley grasped the victory for the U.S. 25-23 with a spike.

USA Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon said: "It was a very difficult match, a very difficult environment. Our guys embraced it. Brazil seemed more comfortable in the first set, but things changed in the second set, and after that it was just two teams battling hard. For us to be Olympic champions in the same year as World League champions validates our goals, and it's a great achievement for us."

Brazil Head Coach Bernardo Rezende said: "We should not see silver as a defeat. The players worked hard for eight years and we have won six World Championships and two World Cups among other titles. Right now we are frustrated. But we have to learn from our mistakes and try to do better next time. It's difficult to say now whether I will stay or not. I have to think about it. If I can keep giving my contribution to the team, I'll stay. My sadness is not so much losing a gold medal, so much as losing players. We're like a family, and we will miss them. But if a new person (a new coach) can come in with new skills, I would not mind that."

Men's final standings:
1. USA (gold)
2. Brazil (silver)
3. Russia (bronze)
4. Italy
5. Bulgaria, China, Poland, Serbia
9. Germany, Venezuela
11. Egypt, Japan 

  
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