London 2012: Olympic Outlook for the U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team

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London 2012: Olympic Outlook for the U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Ranked sixth in the world at the start of the year and coming off a disappointing sixth-place finish at the 2011 FIVB World Cup, the U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team faces long odds in their quest for a second consecutive gold medal.

But if you think this bunch is running scared, you've got the wrong team.

Half of this year's squad was on the 2008 outfit that managed one of the more remarkable and resilient triumphs in recent Olympic history.

After finishing off the podium at three consecutive Olympics and four consecutive World Cups, the U.S. didn't lose a single game in Beijing. The Americans' gold medal game victory over world No. 1 Brazil was one of the Games' most stunning upsets in any sport.

Off the court, they overcame even greater adversity.

Just a half-day after the opening ceremony, a knife-wielding stranger stabbed and killed then-head coach Hugh McCutcheon's father-in-law at a popular Beijing tourist attraction.

On the eve of his greatest coaching challenge, McCutcheon (at center in the photo) faced an unthinkable grief. Somehow, he and his team persevered, finding both the courage to compete and the resolve to triumph.

Like I said, no supposed long odds will faze this crew.

They've faced longer.

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