It’s the US versus Brazil in women’s volleyball Monday afternoon. Indoor volleyball.
While the less glamorous, non-bikini version of the sport attracts considerably less attention, the US team doesn’t lack story lines or a successful résumé. The Americans arrived in London the No. 1 ranked team in the world and undefeated this year. Brazil is ranked No. 2. And the US-Brazil contest in Group B play is a repeat of the gold medal matchup at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The US fell to Brazil four years ago in the final, ending a bittersweet run that included a semifinal upset of Cuba and an off-court tragedy for the extended USA Volleyball family. On the first day of competition in Beijing, the father-in-law of current US women’s coach Hugh McCutcheon was stabbed to death while sightseeing in the Chinese capital. He was there for the Games.
McCutcheon is married to 2004 volleyball Olympian Elisabeth Bachman, and he coached the men’s team to Olympic gold in 2008. Now, he is focused on putting the women at the top of the podium.
“Obviously, very happy to start with a win in this difficult pool,” said McCutcheon after the US defeated South Korea, 3-1, in its Olympic opener at Earls Court. “Our team did some things pretty well. There is room for improvement.
“We get a day to regroup and get ready for the next game . . . It’s a dangerous group so we are pleased with the win.”
The top four teams from each pool advance to a knockout phase.
The gold medal game takes place Aug. 11.