A second-straight volleyball gold inspired summersaults from Brazil. It brought tears to the US.
The Brazilians turned Earls Court into a carnival with a 3-1 upset victory over the US women in the final at the London Games on Saturday. As they danced into the medal ceremony, the team sang “The champion is back!” in Portuguese.
What a run up to Rio.
Brazil’s win ended an undefeated US run through the competition and denied the Americans their first gold medal in the sport. It was a rematch of the Beijing Games final, which the Brazilians also won 3-1.
“First time we didn’t have any control in this tournament,” said US captain Lindsey Berg, who sobbed afterward.
Brazil became the third team to repeat as gold medalists. The Soviet Union won in 1968 and 1972, while Cuba won three straight starting with the 1992 Barcelona Games. Brazil also won bronze in 1996 and 2000.
It was the third silver for the US women. The others were in 1984 and 2008.
After Fernanda Rodrigues spiked for match point, stars Fabiana Claudino and Sheilla Castro leapt into the official’s tall chair at the net and began dancing. Their teammates piled on the floor.
Then came the summersaults.
“I’m so happy, we’re double Olympic champions!” said Jaaqueline Carvalho, who led her team with 18 points in the 11-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17 victory.
Olympic rookie Destinee Hooker and four-time Olympian Logan Tom both had 14 points for the US.
The top-ranked US women were the undisputed favorites coming into the London Games. However, once the second-ranked Brazilians got going with a hard-fought 3-2 quarter-final victory over Russia, they were unstoppable.
The US took an early 11-4 lead in the first set on Hooker’s ace. Brazilian coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes shouted at his players to calm down during a timeout, but two straight kills from Hooker and Foluke Akinradewo’s block made it 19-7. Jordan Larson spiked for the set.
In the second set, Brazil bounced back to take an 11-6 lead on Rodrigues’ kill, sparking a thunderous ovation from the fans at Earls Court. Logan Tom’s spike tied it at 12, but Brazil scored six straight and took the set.
The Brazilians celebrated wildly after taking a 6-2 lead in the third. The US narrowed it to 21-19 on Hooker’s kill, but it was as close as they came and Castro’s kill won the set.