The American women were untouchable through seven matches, winning each one en route to the Gold Medal Match and an anticipated first-ever Olympic gold medal.
But it was not meant to be.
Team USA won the first set handily and perhaps got ahead of themselves before running into a Brazilian buzzsaw and dropping three straight sets to the defending Olympic champions from Beijing in 2008. Brazil reclaimed the gold medal, defeating the United States 11-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17.
The second set proved the turning point of the match, as Brazil look bewildered at the American onslaught in the first set. However, the Americans’ power game deserted them, as Brazil managed to handle nearly every American spike and break through each block attempt. Without the benefit of the block from Destinee Hooker and others in the front row that the USA relied on throughout its first seven games in London, libero Nicole Davis was nearly helpless, and the USA back row foundered.
Service errors compounded the Americans’ issues on offense, as did errors up front, with a couple of net touches and seemingly open scoring chances being powered out of bounds or into the net antenna (also out of bounds). Even veteran Logan Tom, for many the face of USA Volleyball, succumbed to uncharacteristic errors.
Team USA put on a handful of small runs to try to get back in the match in the last two sets, but Brazil never surrendered the lead to USA from the first point of the second set, allowing the Americans to only tie once. At times, it seemed like the Brazilians had ten women on the court, each seven feet tall, the Americans were so defenseless against their attacks. Fabiana was magnificent on the block, earning all of her team’s blocks with seven and contributing 14 points. Jaque led her team with 18 points on 18 spikes, and Sheilla was also a force, scoring 15 points. Brazil outspiked USA, totaling 61 spike points to USA’s 46.
Hooker and Tom led Team USA with 14 points each, followed by Foluke Akinradewo’s 11, but the U.S. missed Hooker’s blocking ability as she finished the match with none. Team USA finishes with the silver medal for the third time in the Olympics, having also won a bronze medal.