With bodies flying and Mikasa’s sizzling, Brazil tenaciously overpowered USA after losing the first set 11-25 the won three straight, duplicating what they did against the Americans in Beijing 2008. Among the many stars shining brightly over the South American country were libero Fabiana Oliveira and top scorer Jaqueline Carvalho.
Brazil’s coach Jose Guimaraes, also known as Ze Roberto, has now won gold with the Brazil’s men (Barcelona 1992) and twice with Brazil’s women (2008, 2012).
After the gold medal match, coach Guimaraes said, “This is a wonderful feeling, it’s amazing. Last year we lost every match against the USA. For me, the USA were the favorites before this match. We played well tactically. After the first set we played really wonderful. We were serving well. We didn’t make mistakes on reception.”
Speaking of the comparison between volleyball and football (soccer) in Brazil, Guimaraes said, “Soccer in Brazil is not a sport, it is a religion, so volleyball is the first sport in Brazil. I imagine the people in Brazil will be very sad about the soccer team losing to Mexico, but very happy about us beating the USA. It’s amazing, it is wonderful.”
USA’s coach Hugh McCutcheon spoke following the match, saying, “Brazil started serving much more aggressively, in all honesty they were better than us. They were pressing us and we didn’t really respond as well as we should have done. I am very proud of Team USA. We didn’t get the result we wanted, it’s the way it goes. That’s life, Kudos to Brazil, but I’m still proud of my team. You can’t always get the gold, but you have to look at what you do to try and achieve it and we tried our best.”
Talking about his future, McCutcheon commented, “This is the end of the road for me in the international arena. It’s been a privilege, but it’s the end of a chapter. If they need me (for Rio 2016 Olympic Games), I’ll always be here. USA Volleyball is in my blood. If I can be a scout or help, I’ll do it.”
Brazil’s libero Fabiana Oliveira said afterwards, “I think that the power we had, the power we gave to each other gave us the deserved result. There are no words for this emotion. We love this, we live this both on and off the court. The critics that we had at the beginning were important for us to grow. Being second was never an option. We’re going to enjoy this a lot and so is Brazil.”
Brazil’s top scorer in the gold medal match, Jaqueline Carvalho told reporters after the awarding ceremony, “It’s like we’d spoken about before, we had to trust in ourselves and our attack. We are two-time Olympic Games champions. Unbelievable, but we know it’s true.”
For the USA, Logan Tom stated, “I’m happy with it. It’s not too shabby. When you play for your country, it’s not for money or fame, it’s for your family, your pride, your country. You don’t do it to receive stuff.
America’s Megan Hodge added, “Our matchup was the same as it always has been. I think they really woke up after the first set. They made it a lot more challenging to get back into the game and we didn’t respond very well. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you can’t take it for granted. Silver is very good, gold is just better.”
photos Janos Schmidt