Beijing, China, August 22, 2008 - One day after the American
women secured their first final berth in 24 years at Olympic volleyball, the
American men spikers also clinched the final ticket for the first time in 20
years after holding off Russia in a five-set semi-final.
With the hard-fought 25-22, 25-21, 25-27, 22-25, 15-13
victory, its seventh straight at this tournament, the world No. 3 took a sweet
revenge on its 3-0 loss to the European runner-up in the bronze medal match of
the Athens Games four years ago.
It will be the second time in history that both teams of
the United States make the men's and women's volleyball finals of an Olympic
Games at the same time. The Americans, who captured successive triumphs at the
Los Angeles Games in 1984 and the Seoul Games in 1988, will fight for their
third Olympic gold medal against the winner between Brazil and Italy in
The Russians rallied from two sets down to force the
tiebreaker where they overcame an early 6-3 deficit to overtake the lead at
12-11, but David Lee scored the last four points of the United States and
stopped ice Russian leading scorer Maxim Mikhaylov to wind up the marathon
Lee finished with 12 points for the 2008 FIVB World League
champion and Clayton Stanley served seven aces to lead the American scoring
with 19 points, while Mikhaylov's game-high 31 points turned out to be in vain
as the Athens Games bronze medallists have to play the bronze medal match
The first set was closely contested and it was tied at
11-all before a Sergey Tetyukhin spike and consecutive blocks of 2.06-meter
Alexey Kuleshov and 2.03-meter Mikhaylov, against Stanley and Lee respectively,
pushed Russia up at 14-11.
Stanley, who came into the semi-final as the tournament's
second best scorer chart with 90 kills, 11 blocks and six aces, soon roared
back with three aces in a row to lead the United States to a 5-0 run that
helped it surpass Russia at 17-15. Then the Americans just held on before a
serve error of Mikhaylov awarded the opener to them.
The Russians fought back strongly in the second set for a
17-14 cushion and held it to 20-17, but the United States closed out the set
with an amazing 8-1 run.
In the third set, Russia was up again at 20-15 before the
Americans steadily pulled within 23-21. After Mikhaylov drove a ball home to
make it 24-21, the Americans beat off three set points in a row to level it at
24-all, only to see Mikhaylov come up big for a smash to give Russia its fifth
set point, which is converted by Alexander Volkov through a solid block against
The Russians continued its winning momentum in the fourth
set, jumping to a 16-13 lead at the second TTO and never looked back.
Later on Friday, world No. 1 Brazil will play Italy in
the other semi-final match. (Xinhua)