U.S. team fails to grab destiny, falls to Brazil

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LONDON -- Destinee wasn't enough.

Brazil denied the United States its first Olympic gold medal in women's volleyball Saturday in a 3-1 upset that had the Brazilians turning somersaults on the court and some American players sobbing.

It was the first loss for the U.S. team at the tournament and the second consecutive gold medal for Brazil. American star Destinee Hooker, the second-best scorer at the London Olympics, was held to 14 points.

Jaqueline Carvalho had 18 points to help Brazil overcome a disastrous first set and win, 11-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17.

"We felt we lost control in the first set, but we never lost sight of our objectives, and that was to win gold," Carvalho said.

"We knew the U.S. is a great team, that the game would be tough. But we managed to turn it around."

The U.S. team was favored and started captain Lindsey Berg, despite a strained left achilles. The U.S. took an 11-4 lead on Hooker's ace. Jordan Larson spiked for the set.

In the second set, Brazil bounced back to take an 11-6 lead on Fernanda Rodrigues' kill.

Logan Tom's spike tied it at 12, but Brazil scored six points in a row and took the set.

The Brazilians celebrated wildly after taking a 6-2 lead in the third. The U.S. team narrowed the margin to 21-19 on Hooker's kill, but it was as close as things got.

With momentum on the side of the Brazilians, Thaisa Menezes extended it to 23-14 in the fourth set before Rodrigues' match-winning kill.

Sheilla Castro and Claudino leapt into the official's chair, and Brazil's coaches rushed in to pile on the other players. The Brazilians danced into the medal ceremony.

Brazil became the third team to repeat as gold medalist after the Soviet Union and Cuba.

"We worked really hard, we came into this final game undefeated. You can't get any better than that," Hooker said.

"I think Brazil kicked it up a notch after the first set."

It was the third silver for the U.S. women, and the first Olympic appearance for Hopewell High School and Penn State grad Christa Harmotto. The other silvers were in 1984 and 2008. The loss prevented U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon from earning the distinction of winning gold medals with both the American men's and women's teams.

"I still believe that team is one of the best, if not the best in the world, and we weren't that today," McCutcheon said.

"That's what it comes down to. We train for four years, we come here for two weeks, and it comes down to two hours. I don't think we played poorly tonight, I think Brazil played really well."



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