2004 FIVB

 


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USA/USA 

The U.S. Men’s national Volleyball team is looking to regain some of the shine that it had when it won three straight Olympic medals in Los Angeles (gold in 1984), Seoul, South Korea (gold in 1988) and Barcelona, Spain (bronze in 1992). The team has been steadily improving under the guidance of Hall of Fame head coach Doug Beal and just missing out on a medal at the 2003 World Cup in Japan, where the team finished fourth, has left the players thirsty for success at the 2004 Olympic Games.

The World Cup provided the United States Volleyball players with just the tonic they needed following a disappointing 2002 season in which a relatively young team went 19-17 and finished ninth at the World Championships in Argentina. At that tournament the men won their first four matches, including a come-from-behind five-set thriller over eventual world champions Brazil, and was in a perfect position to reach the quarterfinals. But a crushing five-set loss to Greece and a four-game setback to Serbia and Montenegro in the final match of the second round ended that particular season for Team USA.

“What we showed in 2002 was we have the ability to play at a very high level,” said head coach Doug Beal. “Now we have to show that we have not only the ability to play at that level, but the maturity and the consistency to play at that level for every match of a long tournament. We have to play at a very high level for a much longer period of time.”

The Americans made their Olympic debut in 1964 when Volleyball first became a full medal sport at the Olympic Games. Their ninth place in Tokyo, a seventh place four years later in Mexico, but most of all the absence of the United States from the next three tournaments did not foretell the great success that would follow in the 1980s.

In the meantime, the Americans won the 1986 World Championship title, while their collection also comprises another bronze medal from the event held in Athens in 1994. In 1992, they had to settle for third place in the World League but celebrated their victory in the 1985 World Cup in Tokyo, with their most recent success in the event being the 1991
bronze medal.